2003 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Best Original Character - Dr. Oskar Freiling
This effort was designed to be a direct sequel to our first story, End Game. In this story, we have taken a different direction. We have tried to show the two-years following the events in End Game. That is, post WWII. We are using post-war correspondence for this story. Meaning that almost every section here begins or ends with a letter written from one character to another. There are sections that remain only text with no letters, but mostly for explanatory reasons. We again do not make any claims on the original Hoganís Heroes characters. All other characters are ours. But again, those characters are free for anyone to use, if you so choose. (We still have the Tender Loving Care requirement for Toby. But we now include the character of Shamus in that requirement as well. They both appear somewhere in Post Games)
This effort contains some strong language and some sexual situations. Our rating would be PG-13.
World War II was over.
But the World was still dealing with its aftermath.
The World would never be the same again.
Crimes against humanity.
Millions of Jews massacred by Hilterís Third Reich.
German run death camps, concentration camps, and labor camps.
All of this was being revisited at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
The United States leveled two Japanese cities with the aid of the Atomic Bomb.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
140,000 people were killed in the immediate aftermath of those bombs.
Another 70,000 died in the following months as a direct result of those bombs.
Still, there were some struggling to aid in the healing process.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, July 15, 1946, 1800 Hours
It was a warm summerís evening. Rob Hogan and his wife Beth were trying to relax in the courtyard of their large Prussian Castle, which was on a hill overlooking the small town of Hammelburg, Germany. They had purchased and began refurbishing the residence last September, after the end of war, when Major General Robert Hogan took over as Military Governor for the US controlled zone in Germany. He had chosen Hammelburg as his base of operations due to his long-standing relationship with the people of this town. During the war, he and his men had run a large Allied sabotage & espionage operation from Stalag 13, a German POW camp on the outskirts of Hammelburg. He felt he owed the people in this town something, as he knew that he and his men would never have survived the war without their help. So he wanted to return the favor, even if it was only to infuse some needed cash into the area. As Military Governor, though, he was responsible for the entire US controlled zone, which encompassed the southern most part of Germany. During the war, his operation had had some devastating effects on this part of the country. So now, as Military Governor, he felt he could also aid in its recovery, as well.
Sitting next to his wife and holding her hand, Rob was trying to act calm, cool and collected. He didnít want his wife to pick up on the fact that he was actually a nervous wreck. Keep it together man. Youíre a General for Christ sake. Youíre supposed to be able to handle a crisis. Just because your wifeís overdue, donít panic. His wifeís due date was five days ago. Rob had been watching Beth like a hawk since then. He even had Doctor Freilingís wife Ursula stay with Beth during the day while he was at work. Beth wanted to have the baby at home and Ursula was a trained mid-wife. She and Doc Freiling didnít even live far away at all. They could be there in a matter of minutes. So donít worry -- Easy for you to say.
It was hard for Rob to watch Beth being so uncomfortable. He had tried using words to get her mind off it, but that was futile. Understandably, she was in the midst of some excessive mood swings, and anything he said just caused it to get worse. Sitting quietly, in each otherís arms, seemed to be the best solution. So, Rob tried to concentrate on something else.
Today had been one of my better days as Military Governor. I attended the groundbreaking for a new school, a state of the art facility. That school was to be built on the site of what used to be Stalag 13 where my men and I had been interned for more than three years. I had not been out to that site in a long time. When my men and I left that POW camp, we had leveled the place with explosives. At that time, it had been important to hide our operation. That was no longer necessary due to Allied High Commandís full disclosure of our operation, which had made life a lot easier.
When I arrived at the site today, I was taken by surprise. The entire area had been cleared, and nothing was left. There was even grass growing on the site. It looked just like a wide-open field. I had a member of my staff take some pictures. I decided to send copies to Kinch, LeBeau, Carter, and Newkirk as they were with me as we leveled Stalag 13. It would be something that they would want to see. I was also just told today by the civilian governmental leaders that when the school opened next year, that they were going to dedicate the school to Papa Bear and his organization. Iíll have to get a reunion together for that. Wow, this year has gone by so fast. So many things have happened. Iím surprised that I havenít heard from any of my men. Well, in reality, I canít call them my men any longer, but in a lot of respects they always will be. I guess Iíll need to set that correspondence in motion, myself. Iíll do it as soon as Beth and the baby (Michael? or Mary?) are settled.
Just as he finished that thought, he felt Bethís hand grip his tightly, so tightly that her nails made impressions deep into his palm. Ouch. A contraction? Oh God, here we go. "Are you alright, Beth?" he asked innocently.
"No Iím not alright!" She bellowed. "Iím having a contraction!" She was breathing very heavily. "Itís time," she continued to squeeze his hand.
Ouch. "Okay, letís get you to bed. Iíll contact the Freilings. Everything will be fine," Rob said softly, trying to remain calm, but not succeeding. He helped Beth into the house and toward their master bedroom. "Here Beth, just lay down, relax. Iíll go call the Freilings. Everything will be fine," Rob said as he turned to leave the room. He quickly turned back. "Is their anything else you need Beth?"
"Just contact the Freilings. Everything will be fine," Beth said reassuringly, as the contraction eased. Poor Rob! He was a wreck!
"Okay, Iíll just go contact the Freilings. Everything will be fine," Rob said, almost on autopilot. He left the bedroom and immediately called the Freilings. They arrived within 20 minutes. Rob had gone back and was sitting with Beth waiting for them.
"You must leave Robert," said Ursula austerely, as she entered the room.
"Why? I want to be here. Beth needs me," Hogan answered defiantly.
Doc Freiling had trailed Ursula into the room. Without missing a beat, he said "Why? Why, you ask? Because I donít need three patients! When you faint dead away to the floor, you will take my time away from your wife and child! I have no time for that, now go!"
"But, but. I wonít faint," Hogan stammered. He wanted to sound confident, but it came out apprehensively.
"No buts, Robert. You need to leave," Ursula said gently as she held his arm and steered him to the door.
Rob Hogan left the bedroom and began pacing up and down the hallway just outside. For three hours, he heard Beth continue to cry out in pain. He couldnít stand it. He had to restrain himself from bursting through the door. Finally things got quiet, and when a babyís cry was heard, he almost passed out. He had to steady himself against the wall in the hallway. He heard the door. He took a deep breath and almost came to attention. He didnít want anyone to notice how anxious he was.
Ursula came out of the bedroom, carrying the baby. "Itís a boy, Robert. A very healthy little boy." She handed him the baby. Our brave General is hyperventilating!
"Howís Beth?" Rob asked, breathing rapidly. He glanced quickly at Ursula and read her smiling face. He returned his gaze to his son and his face was full of joy. He didnít want to take his eyes off his son. Hey there, Michael. -- Michael Robert Hogan. -- Welcome to my world.
"Beth is fine," Ursula said smiling. It is nice to see the joy on Robertís face. For so much of the time that weíve known him, we never saw anything but determination and commitment there. Thatís still there of course, but it can now be tempered with joy. Family life suits him well.
Rob looked back to Ursula. "Thanks Ursula, thanks for everything," Rob said smiling. As he returned his gaze to his son though, his expression changed to one of apprehension. Welcome to my world? Huh, Michael? - Let us just hope that the world is the best place for you, right now. There is so much uncertainty, Iím not sure the world is the safest place for you. -- Stop thinking like that Hogan. - Yeah. Yeah. - Michael, just so you know. -- Your mother and I made a conscious decision to bring you into our lives. -- I can only hope that we can make good on that decision. - I promise you, we are going to try our best. - Okay? - So now, Michael Robert Hogan. -- Are we ready to tackle this world together? The joy returned to Robís face, but the joy was tempered with his determination to help make this world a better place for his son, and for others.
July 16, 1946
Dear Mom, Dad, and John
Well congratulations are in order! We have a new addition to the Hogan family. Michael Robert Hogan. Michael was just born last night. July 15, 1946 at 2105 hours, 10lbs, 2oz, 23 inches. Heís healthy and strong, and has all ten fingers and toes. Iíll send you a picture as soon as I can. Heís beautiful though, even If I say so myself.
Michael was five days overdue though. Boy, it was a rough five days. Doc Freiling said that everything went according to the rules and he doesnít expect any problems. Beth is doing fine. Sheís understandably tired. And Iím doing much better now too, thanks for asking. (Boy dad, how did you make it through the four of us? Oof! What a wreck I was! Oh God, sorry Mom. I know you had it worse. Itís just that I never expected to feel that useless. Itís tough on us military types to feel so useless, you know?)
Beth is going to be suitably impressed with me, though. Iíve tried to convince her that I have first hand knowledge of the diaper changing and the multiple feedings etc. (Though, that birthing process was tough.) She doesnít believe me. If thereís any lesson you both taught me, it was how to care for my younger siblings. Youíll be glad to know I havenít forgotten that lesson. Iím going to try to be the best father I can be.
Please let Sue and Ed know the news for me. Hopefully you can all make it for the babyís christening, August 25th. Please try and come, I want to show off the new house. And show you the German countryside. And there are so many people I want you to meet. Iíll call Joe in London. Iím going to ask him to be Michaelís Godfather. Bethís sister, Joan has agreed to be Michaelís Godmother. Both Joan and Phyllis, Bethís Mom, will be coming. Theyíll be arriving on the 21st; hopefully you will get to meet them.
Oh, I almost forgot. Iím so sorry about Toby. I know what he meant to you. Iím glad I got to see him when I was home last. He was a great dog. He had a good life with you. Spoiled rotten, but manís best friend, always right? So tell me, is there another puppy in the works for the Hogan family? If I know you both, it wonít be long before the patter of little puppy feet again graces the Hogan household. Keep me posted, send pictures.
Rob & Beth (and Michael)
Hammelburg, Germany, Office of the Military Governor,
Major General Robert Hogan, July 20, 1946, 1000 Hours
Today was the first day back into the office for General Robert Hogan. Heíd spent the first hour in the building showing off pictures of the baby. Iím not going to be very productive today. I still want to get the letters and pictures out to Kinch, Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter. The General finally made it back to his own office. There was a lot of paperwork to catch up on, and meetings to reschedule. Hopefully Lieutenant Waters has worked through most of my schedule for me.
As he got to his desk, he noticed a telegram sitting on top of his desk. It had to be of a personal nature. If Lieutenant Walters is anything, he is organized and would not have left that there otherwise. The return address was Heidelberg. Hans Shultz. Hogan smiled as he opened the telegram.
July 17, 1946
To Office of Military Governor, Robert Hogan. Stop. Wilhelm told me about the new baby. Stop. A boy! Congratulations. Stop. Michael Robert. I like it. Stop. Tell Beth I hope she is feeling better. Stop. Howís the new dad holding up? Stop. Call when you get a chance. Stop. Your friend, Hans Shultz. Stop.
Hogan could do nothing but smile. Wilhelm and Hans had a new and different relationship. Hans had finally admitted to Wilhelm that he knew what my men and I were doing during our internment. I was never privy as to what was said between both men, but they have made their peace, and their friendship has grown. I know that it was hard on Wilhelm at first, but he keeps surprising me. He has come to terms with his feelings of guilt and so have I for that matter. Our relationship has also become new and different. Iím not sure if as Military Governor that I would have accomplished as much, as quickly, without him involved. And thatís saying a lot.
Hogan looked up from his musing about new and different relationships and decided he needed to draft the letter to his men, before any more time went by.
July 20, 1946
Ivan, Peter, Louis, and Andrew
Iím sending you all the same correspondence. Please donít take it as an insult. The time constraints of being Military Governor (and a new dad!) donít give me much leeway. Plus everything I wanted to say, I wanted to say to all of you.
First, I should let you all know that the surgery went fine. There has been no lasting after effects. My vision has even returned to normal. In fact, to look at me now you would never know what had happened. And fellas, Iím not lying to you. Everything is fine, even Ivan will tell you that!
Moving onÖEnclosed please find two pictures.
You see that one of the big empty field. That was Stalag 13. We are building a state of the art school on that site. Great huh? Ground breaking was just done on the 15th. The civilian leaders in Hammelburg surprised me though. They want to dedicate the school to Papa Bear and his organization. So for next September, Iíd love to have as many of the men that can, to come. Chris Matthews and Steve Marlow had the names and addresses of everyone. Iíve already contacted them. You should hear from them soon. I would love for you guys to come then as well, but I wanted to extend an open invitation to you four to come visit anytime. Iíve missed you all. It would be great to get together.
So please, at the very least. Write and tell me what youíve been up too. I hope all is well. My promise still stands; if I can do anything for any of you, donít hesitate to ask. Iím just sorry it took so long to write.
Peter, Louis, Andrew. I donít even know if you know this. But, you guys need to congratulate Major Ivan Kinchloe on his posting, in the states, as an instructor at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. Heís moved onto bigger and better things! He got his promotion in January of this year.
Kinch. My family is still only 2 Ĺ hours away. Remember they had extended you an invitation to visit. They would love to meet you. So if you are ever in the need of a home-cooked meal, just give them a call. (899) 555-1212. Iím sure that that invitation would include all of you. So, donít feel left out. When next you find yourselves near Bridgeport, CT. By all means, call.
Peter. Have you ever talked to my brother? Heís still stationed in London at Fieldstone. Look him up sometime. Colonel Joseph Hogan.
Louis. Youíre only a relatively short distance away. We had even made the trip a couple of times together, remember? Please call, or come by. Anything.
Andrew. Iím sorry you are the only one not near a Hogan family connection. Please write. I want to know what new and different things youíve been working on. (Dare, I ask?)
Now to the second picture! You see that cute little kid? Thatís Michael Robert Hogan. My son. As of today, heís five days old and counting. Doc Freiling delivered him. My wife Beth is fine. Did you guys know Beth and I got married in August of last year, during my visit home to the states? This past year has been a whirlwind for me, so forgive the memory lapses! Kinch where are you when I need you? Or maybe I should just blame it on no sleep. Five-day-olds donít seem to care when they need your attention!
Overall though, July 15th 1946 was a pretty damn good day!
Iíve even managed to convince most of my immediate family to show up next month for the babyís christening. I hope they all can make it. I didnít get much time last August to spend with them. Just two weeks. It will be nice to see them again. Anyway, the babyís christening is August 25th. You guys have an open invitation to come, but I realize that this is short notice, so donít feel pressured at all.
Beth and my first wedding anniversary is almost here, August 3rd. I would have liked to use our first anniversary to remember the happy occasion of our wedding, as well as for me, getting to see my family for the first time in four years. Instead our visit to the states, and our wedding, were marred by the horrifying events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6th and 9th. The only saving grace, I guess, was that the wedding ceremony happened before those two appalling tragedies. Because, for the rest of the time, that topic was what dominated my visit home.
The prevailing sentiment in the country, at the time, was one of revenge. My gut reaction to the events was to throw up. Then I became a rampaging maniac. You know that temper, I have? I blew my top. I could not believe that the United States would stoop to something like that. It made us nothing less than Hitlerís Third Reich. Twice! Needless to say my family was a little shocked at my temper. When I finally calmed down, we all sat and talked it through. My family continued to show their true colors. They all believed as I did, which was a relief for me. It would not have been good for me to visit family I havenít seen for four years, only to find out they were now left-wing extremist!
Well, I guess, since Iíve already broached the more serious events of the past year, I will just continue. I spent three weeks at the Nuremberg Tribunal this past winter. I had to testify to the conditions I had found at Dachau during my original visit there. For three weeks I listened to other peopleís experiences at similar camps. It was horrendous. They are now estimating that millions lost their lives in those camps. Millions. I heard a total as high as six million Jews exterminated in those places. I still canít fathom that nothing much was done after I reported it. I just donít know what to think, feel or do. And on top of it, that damn bastard Goering was allowed to commit suicide! If I thought that was going to happen, I would have shot him myself!
Wow, sorry. Got to start watching that temper!
The two concentration camps here in the US controlled zone are still being treated as Ďcrime scenesí, but they both will be made into memorials as soon as all the uproar settles. Which may not be for a very, very long time. So for now, they are being protected by US troops. Iíve seen both places empty. You can still feel the ghosts.
The German civilians have not dealt well with the realization of their governmentís atrocities. Itís hard to explain. They want to atone for what their government has done, but at the same time move away from what their government has done. Itís been hard for me. Iím fighting a battle to let these people rebuild their lives. But political sentiment is understandably against helping these people. You know as well as I that these atrocities were not brought on by the civilian population, but by Hitler and his henchman. I just hope eventually the stigma will disappear. But again it probably wonít be for a very, very long time.
And Kinch can tell you this as well. When we first arrived back in Germany, everyone here was terrified. They had thought weíd betrayed them. They were waiting for the United States to drop the third atomic bomb on Germany. But as the US troops moved into place and the military government came to be, the terror abated somewhat. But it was awful to see that terror written on the faces of people who for more than three years, you had considered friends. We were able to win their trust back fairly quickly. But it took a while for some and still the trust is not complete for everyone.
But, on the up side. I got to pull together quite the civilian government here. It certainly helped that we had so many contacts during our little operation. Almost 300. Iíve helped appoint any that were willing, into the civilian government. It has made the transition for this area a little easier. These people have worked tirelessly within their communities to plan the recovery for each area. Very quickly, I was able to appropriate the correct funds. Itís still an uphill battle and not everyone is happy, but we have managed to be more effective in an organized way.
Speaking of organized, you wonít believe it! Wilhelm Klink is in charge of the budget appropriations for the civilian government. Heís actually been an incredible asset. What I thought was true. If you take the pressure off, heís exceptionally proficient. I deal with him on a daily basis, and our relationship is very good. Talk about strange huh? Four years ago, I never would have thought it possible.
Oh yeah, Wilhelm was able to move his family here. His mother and brother. I see them often. His mother Heike was not what I expected. Iím actually not sure what I expected. But she is a very sweet, very intelligent woman. His brother Wolfgang, you remember him, the Ďdeadbeatí, has actually turned out to be a very capable accountant as well. Both men have worked hard for me. Iíve been suitably impressed.
One last note, Shultz has restarted his toy business. He was right you know. His familyís business reputation was well established. He and his family are well on their way to recovering from the war. They have also taken in over 200 orphans. Theyíve housed them on the factory property. Theyíve found homes for some, but not every one is capable of taking in children at this point. But Shultz just keeps adding rooms and doesnít seem to care how many stay with him. Shultz is a very decent human being, but we all knew that before, didnít we?
Well, Iíve rambled enough. So much has happened in the past year. Please remember my open invitation. But at the very least, please write and tell me how itís going.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan,
Parents of Major General Robert Hogan, July 21, 1946, 1200 Hours
Doctor Michael Hogan had just returned home for lunch from his office. He picked up the mail as he did everyday before entering the house. His wife still didnít pick up the mail. She had been so traumatized during the war that one of those letters would announce the death of any one or all of their sons, that she refused to even touch the mail until her husband had sorted it. Well, we never got one of those letters. But we did get one about our oldest son Robert, fairly early in the war and one about our youngest son John, closer to the end of the war. Both of their planes had been shot down. Word of their conditions took time in coming. Iím not sure if the waiting was worse. We heard nothing about Rob for five months. But, at least Johnís condition came to us fairly quickly, within a month. Both were alive. John was rescued, though injured seriously enough that he was discharged home. Rob wasnít injured, but had been captured by German patrols and sent to a POW camp, where he spent the rest of the war, over three years.
Michael Hogan entered his kitchen and gave his wife a kiss. He immediately went to sorting the mail. I know how Mary feels. There should be no reason to worry now, with the war over. But two of our sons are still over seas. Our middle son, Joseph is working in London as an intelligence operative. He was transferred from Washington close to the end of the war. He still hasnít told us much about his job, so we worry. But, we hope that he hasnít taken lessons from his older brother, Robert, who is still in Germany. Only now heís stationed there, as Military Governor of the US held province. Go figure. What a shock it was to find out that the son who kept telling you that nothing ever happened in his prison camp, would leave that prison camp a highly decorated war hero. One who was promoted from a Colonel to a Major General while in that prison camp? One who was given credit for running the largest sabotage & espionage unit, in military history, from that POW camp? One who was credited with saving the lives of thousands of Allied servicemen? One who, his father, wanted to strangle for lying to them for over three years? Please Joe, donít take after your older brother.
Michael Hogan finally came upon a letter from his son, Robert. He and his wife, as well as their youngest son and daughter had been waiting for this letter. They hoped it contained the good news they were expecting. He called Mary over and they read it together. They were grandparents for a second time. A grandson, Michael Robert!! Rob sounded so very happy. He called both of their children with the news. He wanted to confirm whether everyone was still going to be able to make the trip to Germany next month for the babyís christening. He wanted to respond to Rob as quickly as possible. It looked as if Rob would have a full house. Me, Mary, John, Sue, Ed and little Stephen. He hoped that Joe would be able to make it from London.
July 21, 1946
Dear Rob, Beth and Michael.
Your mom and I are ecstatic. We canít tell you how much. Grandparents again. Give Michael a big hug and kiss from us both. Iím glad that you and Beth are doing well. Childbirth can be a traumatic thing for fathers, and this from a pediatrician. Believe me Rob I do sympathize.
But make sure Beth knows that Iím on her side. You better keep your promise to help out with the baby or Iíll be forced to tell her about the first time you were watching John by yourself. You remember that time, donít you? I know you do and I know John certainly does.
Donít worry Beth, everything worked out fine in the end. But I know that the threat of the story getting to your ears will be sufficient to make Rob toe the line. So use it as often as necessary.
All kidding aside, though. Rob, Beth. Your mother and I know, in our hearts, that you both will be the best parents you can be. Itís such an incredible experience, not to be forsaken. (Of course, there are still those times, when you will want to take your oldest son by the throat and throttle him for lying to you. -- Oh sorry, I digress.)
Sue, Ed, John and little Stephen send their love. Stephen is so excited about meeting his cousin. We will all be coming for the christening. Weíve made plans to stay for two weeks, arriving on the 20th. Hopefully, this will be okay. Youíre sure you have enough room? Have you heard from Joe?
We canít wait to see you, the baby, and your house. And we look forward to meeting your friends.
Mom & Dad
P.S. Enclosed find a picture of ĎShamusí. This time, a yellow lab. Eight weeks old in the picture. Your sister and brother couldnít resist and Shamus has been with us for a month now. We had told them that we werenít ready, but they didnít listen. Heís adorable and has won our hearts.
New York City, USA, Apartment Building of ĎSgt.í Steve Marlow, July 24, 1946, 1800 Hours
Steve Marlow had returned home to his apartment, feeling grimy after a long day in the garage that he had started working in. He wasnít sure whether he was going to stick with it. He was a good mechanic, but he didnít like New York City. He knew he could be a mechanic anywhere.
After he cleaned up, he went and picked up his mail from the box in the lobby of the building. He figured it would be the usual stack of bills. Civilian life wasnít all that it was cracked up to be. He sorted through the mail. Telephone bill, rent due, solicitation, magazine solicitations, Military Governor Hammelburg Germany. He stopped flipping the envelopes and hastily ripped the last one open. It was a letter from ĎColonelí Hogan.
July 19, 1946
Steve and Chris,
I hope the two of you are doing fine, and civilian life suits you.
Well its been over a year since we all walked out the gates at Stalag 13 and as you can tell by the envelope I did come back to Germany to become the Military Governor here. The job has been a hard one. Itís been hard to politically balance what the United Nations wants vs. what would be best for the populace of Germany in the aftermath of the war.
I guess I should let you both know that the additional surgery went fine, and I have recovered fully from my injuries. I also married Beth Newton last August and our first child was born on July 15. Michael Robert Hogan. Both Beth and Michael are doing great, and this new father stuff is incredibly wonderful.
So, about that picture youíre probably looking at. That wide-open field is the old Stalag 13 site. Itís pretty amazing standing and looking at that green grassy field, a year later. But thatís the reason for the letter. I need you to contact all the guys for me. The people of Hammelburg will be dedicating a school, located on the Stalag 13 site, to Papa Bear and his organization. Iíd like to see as many of the men present as possible for this wonderful honor being paid to us.
The dedication ceremony will be held on September 3, 1947.
Please get in touch with me, so we can coordinate this massive effort on getting everyone together. I am trying to arrange accommodations for everyone and will know more as the time draws near. I will keep you both informed as to developments.
ĎColonelí Rob Hogan
Hot Damn! Steve thought to himself. Even more than a year later the ĎColonelí is still full of surprises. He rushed upstairs and called Chris Mathews who also lived in New York City.
"Hi, Chris? Itís Steve. - Yeah, I got a letter too. -- Great. Iíll take tomorrow off. Iíll be over your place about eight am. -- Ok? -- Good. See you then." Steve hung up the phone. He went over to the closet and rummaged around on the top shelf and removed a shoebox. It contained all of the known addresses for his half of the 2000 men who had been at Stalag 13 at the end. He and Chris had a lot of writing to do tomorrow!
July 25, 1946
To all of Hoganís Heroes,
This is a letter of invitation to all of Hoganís Heroes to attend a dedication. A school, built on the site of Stalag 13, is being dedicated to Papa Bear and his organization.
Therefore, ĎThe Colonelí has issued an invitation to any and all of the men of Stalag 13 to come back to Hammelburg, for September 3, 1947 to help dedicate and celebrate the opening of this new school. Please bring as many family and friends as you wish to share in this very special occasion.
As most of you know, our former Commanding Officer is now the Military Governor of the US Controlled Zone in Germany. His headquarters are in Hammelburg. He also wanted everyone to know that he has recovered from all of his injuries. The additional surgery went well and he is just fine now.
Letís all come to show our support and pride in being involved in such a pivotal, important operation. Come and show ĎThe Colonelí how much he meant to us. Please reply to me with a count of how many will be attending this celebration. As time draws nearer, you will hear from me again with more details.
As always, please remember to keep me informed of any changes of address. Iíd like to keep the mailing list as accurate as possible.
See you all next September!
Hammelburg, Germany, Office of the Military Governor,
Major General Robert Hogan, July 26, 1946, 1100 Hours
Rob sorted through the mail that his aide Lieutenant Waters had just brought in. He stared in shock at the last letter. It was his letter, written to Louis LeBeau. It had been returned, address unknown. I canít believe that Louis hasnít left a forwarding address. Something must have happened. How can I find him? Who do I know that is still in Paris and knows Louis? Oh, what was the manís name? The painter we took the little boy blue painting toÖ Monsieur Verlaine? Yeah, that was it. Maybe he knows where Louis is? Iíll have Lieutenant Waters try searching for him. God, I hope everything is all right?
Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Office of Major Ivan Kinchloe, July 26, 1946, 1400 Hours
Ivan Kinchloe had just returned from his final class of the day. He was hoping to have some quiet time to grade his students on their most recent exam. As he got to his desk, he noticed an official envelope with a return address of: The Office of Military Government, Hammelburg, Germany. He smiled. Looks like I may not have time to get through the grading before I leave.
He sat and quietly read the letter from his former commanding officer. He had of course, known some of what Rob had written about. But it was nice to know that he was trying to reach out to the others. I had thought about writing, but things have been so busy. Those first five months in Germany were just crazy. Definitely a whirlwind for sure.
And then the promotion came. I wasnít even sure I wanted it, but Rob was adamant that I take it. He had put out feelers for me, which helped. But I found myself in a very enviable position. I never thought that being second in command to Papa Bear would work out so well. I should have known better. With the feelers out, I got offers from multiple bases for instructor positions. Rob and I talked long and hard about it. I had been made these offers free and clear. Nothing was mentioned about my racial background. It was the right move, but I still hated leaving Rob high and dry. But as he had told me, he would never stand in my way. So here I am. And it has been great. Not perfect, but first-rate.
July 26, 1946
Rob, Peter, Louis and Andrew.
Wow a boy? Huh Rob? Beautiful. Congratulations. I know how much thought went into your decision, during this difficult time, to bring a child into this world. So, I know what he means to you. Iím so happy for you and Beth. Michael Robert. Isnít that your dadís name? Iím sorry, but I wonít be able to make it to the christening. Tell your parents to take a lot of pictures of the christening and I will definitely take them up on their offer of a home-cooked meal after they return.
Wow, Itís weird to see that field empty. Last time I was there, last November, Stalag 13 was still a pile of rubble. A school dedication to us? Really nice. I will definitely be there, if not before. But I canít promise on the Ďbeforeí.
Iíve been enjoying my time as an instructor here. Itís been very busy. Iím teaching four classes a day. Electronic Surveillance & Radio Communication mostly. The men stationed here have been great. Itís kind of funny. They are a little in awe of Papa Bearís second in command. Thanks ĎColonelí. But thanks also go to you, Louis, Peter and Andrew. We made a great team. It has made my transition here so much easier.
One thing that has been tough to deal with is that Anti-German sentiment permeates everything here. Itís completely understandable, as people are in shock as to the extent of the Nazi atrocities. But everyone has assumed that I hate all Germans because I was a POW for so long and because of all that ĎPapa Bearí was able to accomplish against Hitlerís Third Reich. Itís hard to have a conversation. I try to tell people that part of the reason we were so successful was because a lot of our operatives were German civilians who did not follow Hitlerís doctrines. I try hard to give a balanced picture of our experiences in Germany. It just real hard when people donít want to hear it.
On top of that, Anti-Japanese sentiment has run rampant. There is still a sense of victory, because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People have decided that those two incidents were payback for Pearl Harbor. Itís sad. If thereís one thing I learned from our experience in Germany, itís that you canít blame an entire nation for something itís government did. But itís hard to see the forest for the trees, I guess. It will be a long time before things change.
Other than that things in the states are fairly back to normal routine. I do realize that the US always seemed one step away from the war. No physical damage to the landscape, expect for Pearl Harbor. We were lucky in that regard.
Peter, Louis, Andrew. Iím sorry I havenít written to you. And if thereís one thing I hate, itís being behind the eight ball. Rob you beat me to the punch here. Please write guys. Maybe we can all get together if we give each other enough notice. I miss you all as well.
Rob, itís good to hear that Wilhelm and Shultz are doing well. Say hello to them for me. Also Heinrich, Hermann, Schnitzer and the Freilings.
London, England, The London Palladium, Office of the Manager,
Peter Newkirk, July 26, 1946, 1800 Hours
Peter Newkirk, sitting in his office, had just finished a meeting with the architects that were helping to refurbish the London Palladium. It had taken all of this last year to restore the Palladium to its former beauty. It had been damaged during the war and its former owner, Leslie Timmons, had let it fall into disrepair as well.
When I arrived back in London last July, my plans were to open a pub. That was really what I wanted to do. But in a bout of nostalgia one of the first places I visited was here, the London Palladium. I was looking for some good memories, but what I found angered me so. To see the place in such a state, it was just awful. I looked up the owner, Leslie Timmons, and found him to be a lost soul, devastated by the war and the loss of his family. He had no desire to re-open the London Palladium. Before the war, he and I had gotten along well during my time performing here at the Palladium. Before I even realized what I was saying, I told him I wanted to buy the place and refurbish it. In an incredibly gracious gesture, he sold me the Palladium for $1. He said he was just happy that someone would want to take on the project. So, I immediately went to work. Sadly, Leslie wonít be able to see opening night. He died two months ago. But in another wonderful gesture, he donated in trust, what was left of his fortune, to continue the recovery of Londonís Theater District.
Opening Night for the Palladium is October 1st. They will be opening with a special engagement. Jose Ferrer, appearing in Cyrano de Bergerac. Jose Ferrer was being heralded as Broadwayís first Emmy Award Winner for Best Actor in a dramatic play. He and his company will be making a special month long engagement, here in London, to celebrate the re-opening of the London Palladium. We have so much work to do, but we are almost there.
Peter moved the plans that the architects and he were working on. He noticed a letter from The Office of Military Government, Hammelburg, Germany. He smiled. How did this get here? It was addressed to his parentís home. Peter had been so busy today that he had forgotten that his father called and said he was dropping off a letter for him. Why didnít you come get me dad? --Wow, I wonder what Rob wants. -- I hope itís good news. -- Iíve been meaning to write. -- Well, open it. - Okay. Okay.
July 26, 1946
Rob, Ivan, Louis and Andrew
Hello Mates. Sorry I didnít write. Itís been a very busy year for me. Sorry to disappoint you all, but I wonít be opening that pub. Iíve gone back to my roots, the theatre. Iím now the owner/manager of the London Palladium. Wow, huh? I canít believe it myself. Iíve spent the last year refurbishing the theatre. It feels as if Iíve been living out of my office. So many long days and nights. Opening Night is October 1st. Everyone is invited. Just let me know, Iíve got connections to get you fairly decent seats! It would be great to see you all.
Londonís Theatre District is making a real come back. It was in awful condition when I first got back here. I just couldnít bring myself to open a pub. That seemed kind of selfish, somehow. In refurbishing the Palladium, I can share this grand old place with everyone. People round here need some outlet, to get away from the horrors that the war left in itís wake.
London had taken a beating, but you know us Englanders, weíre a stoic bunch. People are just working hard at trying to restore London to what it was before the war. Anti-German sentiment is prevalent here as well. I just donít say much. Iíve got to admit Iím still harboring some real anger myself. I know. I know. It wasnít all Germans involved, just that lunatic and his cronies. Itís just hard to work in that perspective into a conversation around here. So, Iíve just kept myself absorbed in refurbishing the Palladium.
Hey that picture of ĎStalag 13í just floored me. You can count me in for the dedication. Incredible. Imagine a school on that site. Wow! You should be very proud ĎColonelí. We did good work there. Iím glad to know that Wilhelm and Shultzie are doing well. Say hello to everyone else for me.
Hey that other pictureÖ not bad either. Congratulations Rob! Youíre a dad. What happened to that playboy, I remember? Only Kidding. Iím not sure I can make the babyís christening, with opening night here looming. There is too much to do. Say hello to Beth for me. You can always come for opening night, you know? Three front row seats and a backstage passÖ interested? Hey, make that four front row seats. One for your brother as well. Iím sorry, but I havenít had a chance to contact him. Let me know if you want to take me up on that offer.
Ivan. Congratulations, you deserve all the accolades you can get. You kept all us guys in-line. We couldnít have been a team without you. Sorry ĎColonelí. I know you already know my feelings about you. Ivan just needed some recognition here.
Louis. What have you been up to little buddy? Whenís that restaurant going to open? Canít wait to come by.
Andrew. Hey, is everything in Bullfrog North Dakota still in one piece? Only Kidding. Howís school? Any girlfriends?
Call or write soon. Iíve missed you all.
Bullfrog, North Dakota, The Carter Home, July 27, 1946, 1100 Hours
Boy, I canít believe it has been a year already! Andrew thought to himself. He had brought the Colonelís, Robís letter out to the front porch to read. The late July day was a sultry one and heíd been enjoying his day off. For the summer heíd volunteered to chaperone groups of summer campers from the City onto the reservation. They were able to go horseback riding and canoeing on the many lakes and rivers. They were also learning more about Indian culture. It was a great diversion for him. He had embraced small town life enthusiastically as soon as he had arrived home.
Today the whole family had gathered at the Town Gazebo for their annual family picnic. This was the first one heíd been able to attend in five years. The whole clan had been there, more than 60 people. Also there, were sixteen of his cousins who had served in the war. One, Charlie, had been a POW for the last nine months of the War. Charlie had had it rough, and couldnít believe what Andrew had done during his long stint as a POW. Charlie had known about Papa Bear, as most of the allied forces in Europe did, but Charlie hadnít been able to picture his cousin as having a pivotal role in that organization. It had made for some tense moments, but Andrewís easygoing nature had diffused the awkwardness easily.
Next week Andrew would began the last summer camp term. Heíd be back in school in September.
July 27, 1946
Hi Colonel, um Rob, Peter, Louis and Ivan
I just got the Colonelís letter, I mean Robís letter today. Boy is that hard to get used to. Rob, I mean. It sounds like itís been a whirlwind for Rob back in Hammelburg. But we all knew that it wasnít going to be very easy.
Things here in North Dakota are funny. There is a lot of anti-everyone sentiment here. German, Japanese, actually any European or Asian Country. I think folk are scared by the way the world has changed. Today there was a family picnic. Almost everyone was there, David my second cousin on my motherís sisterís side and his family werenít there, neither was my Uncle Tomís mother. Tom married my fatherís sister. Well anyway, sixteen of my cousins who served in the war were there. One of them, Charlie who is my motherís sister Ednaís boy, was a POW, at Stalag 22 in North Germany. He was really perturbed with me. I guess he felt that I wasnít really a POW because of my involvement with ĎPapa Bear.í I guess he figured we all had it easy. He was there for nine months, and then they had to walk out. But he looked pretty good, and I hope I convinced him that three and a half years as a POW, in any capacity, was hard. Anyway we talked for a long time.
I did go back to school. Thereís a GI Bill here in the states. Itís paying for my education. When I filled out my application at the school, the University of North Dakota, there was a spot for veteran status. I filled it out and didnít think much of it. A week later I received a letter in the mail that my tuition has been paid, and would continue to be paid through the GI Bill. Itís wonderful. I think itís great that Uncle Sam is taking some interest in helping out its veterans. I feel like I have to be productive right away so I did double classes last year, and plan to do the same this coming year. Being at Stalag 13 really taught me how to study. After I graduate, I plan to teach high school science. I canít wait.
That picture of the old place looked unreal. I will definitely be there for the dedication. A school. Dedicated to us! Wow! Thatís top rate.
Rob, that other picture looks wonderful as well. A new father. That is terrific. Iím sure youíre going to be a great Dad. Youíve already had lots of practice! I will just have enough time to make it back to school before classes begin if I leave for home on the 26th, so you can definitely count me in for Michaelís christening.
Ivan, that news that youíre teaching in Massachusetts is wonderful. I know youíre a great teacher, so those guys are lucky to have you.
Peter, whatís up with the pub?
Louis, whenís that restaurant opening?
Rob, Iíll see you in a few weeks, and hopefully some of the other guys as well. Say hello to everyone for me, and Happy Anniversary. A little early, but youíll probably get this letter around the 5th anyway.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, July 27, 1946, 1900 Hours
Rob just hung up the phone. Heíd been relaxing in the library, because both Beth and the baby were sleeping. He used the brief respite to call his brother Joe in London. This is great. Joe is going to be able to get leave and make Michaelís christening. And, he has agreed to be his nephewís Godfather. Itís going to be great to see him. I canít believe it. The whole family will be here, all together for the first time in almost six years. It will be great. I want my whole family to meet everyone here. Willhelm, Hans, Oskar, Ursula, everyone. I want my family to know how important these people are to me. How Iíd probably be dead 10 times over had it not been for these people. Well maybe, I wonít tell my family that part. Dad already sounds like he wants to strangle me. Heís probably never going to forgive me my lying to him for over three years. But it was necessary, and I donít regret it.
Actually, Dad was pretty funny. Wanting to make sure Iíve enough room for everyone. The library here was big enough to hold my entire family. Rob glanced around the library, taking in the statuesque pillars holding the balcony above his head, and the ornate spiral staircase leading up to it. The balcony is where the oldest part of the collection was stored. There are more than 3,000 volumes in the entire place. All left over, from when Field Marshall von Leiter vacated the premises. The whole estate had been furnished when Iíd bought it. It just needed to be refurbished. It was by chance, that the place was available when I returned to Germany. I had really liked the place when I came here as ĎErik Schoffsteiní to visit the old Field Marshall for his birthday party. That visit had been part of a smoke screen to throw the Gestapo Major, Pruhst, off the track. Heíd gotten too close, even had a witness that could identify me. But, everything had worked out. Admittedly, I never expected to be living here at that time. God, come to think of it, I hadnít expected to live past that night. In fact, there were way too many nights like that. Thank God thatís over with! Now I can build good memories here.
Paris, France, South Side, August 3, 1946, 1700 Hours
Louis LeBeau trudged wearily down the road. He had moved into a new apartment today, determined to move his life forward. For the past year he had traveled all over France, searching for any trace whatsoever of his family. The home he had grown up in was gone, destroyed by fire. None of the neighbors around the old homestead had known what had happened to his family. Sadly, three months ago, he located obituary listings for his mother and his younger sister, Rachelle. Six weeks ago, he had located an elderly uncle, but the old man didnít know what had happened to Louisís family. Louis had been unable to find anything about his father or his youngest sister, Michelle. There was nowhere else to look. There was no one left. The War has destroyed my family. Itís up to me to carry on the LeBeau family name.
"Louis, Louis!" A voice called from behind him. He turned and was pleased to see it was Verlaine.
"Hello, Verlaine. How are you?" LeBeau asked, embracing his friend and kissing him on each cheek.
"Iím fine, just fine." Verlaineís expression turned sad. "Have you found your family, Louis?" Verlaine asked, worried.
"No," LeBeau replied with a sigh. "I have given up my search. Itís time to move on."
"Oh, I am so sorry Louis," Verlaine commiserated. "Such a terrible time weíve been through. But the Bosche have been defeated and Paris is once again free. It is something to rejoice, no?"
"Oui. Paris is Free," LeBeau replied fervently. "We have all sacrificed much for that to happen."
"Oui. Oui. I have a letter for you." Verlaine removed a letter from his pocket and held it out to Louis. "General Hogan has been trying to locate you for a couple of weeks. He sent you a letter and it was returned to him. Heís been very worried. He finally called me."
"When did you talk with him?" LeBeau asked, taking the letter. He had meant to write everyone, but the last year had been very difficult.
"Just a week ago. I told him that I expected you back in town, and that I would keep his letter until we met," Verlaine explained. "Suzette told me this morning that she had talked with you at the corner grocer, so I was coming to see you."
"Oui, it was good to see her this morning," LeBeau replied. "I had fully intended to come and visit with you and Suzette."
"Come and visit, anytime Louis," Verlaine said, "I must go now. Take care of yourself." He started to leave. He could tell that Louis was anxious to read the letter from the General.
"I will do that Verlaine," LeBeau replied. Suddenly he was looking forward to returning home.
August 3, 1946
Rob, Ivan, Peter and Andrew:
Iím sorry to you all for not writing before now.
I have just today received Robís letter. I am sorry that it had such a difficult time in reaching me. I have just returned to Paris today. My friend, Verlaine found me on the street as I returned to my new apartment and presented me with your letter Rob. Thank you for going the extra effort to find me.
I have been doing a lot of traveling around France. When I returned home last July, I found that my family was gone and my home was burned to the ground. Sadly, all of my travels have been fruitless. Apparently none of my family have survived the War. My mother and one of my younger sisters I am sure are dead. Unfortunately I can find no trace of my father or my youngest sister. I will probably never learn what has happened to them.
It is so sad that the War is still deeply affecting our lives. Here in France, the populace is ecstatic to have their country back. But they are unforgiving of all Germans. There was a newspaper article written early after my return to France detailing ĎPapa Bearís Organizationí. Of course, you all know, that Papa Bear was well known here in France during the war. But once my name was associated with ĎPapa Bearí people have the strangest notions about where my sympathies and beliefs lie. I have not been able to get anyone to see that Ďall Germansí were not evil, and that some had fought Hitler and his Third Reich harder than any of the Free French ever considered doing. So Rob, I can sympathize with your struggles.
The past year has not been an easy one for me, but now that I have returned to Paris I intend to begin my life anew. And what better place to begin again than Paris? Tomorrow I will begin to look for a location for my restaurant. I hope to locate near the Louvre. I have decided upon the name ĎRobuchon.í I will tell everyone when I expect to open, but as I have said I donít even have a location yet.
Rob. Congratulations on the birth of your first child! How exciting! As you have said, Hammelburg and Paris are very close. I will come for Michaelís christening. Say hello to Beth for me. Happy anniversary, by the way! Please say hello to everyone there for me, and tell them that I will see them at the christening.
Andrew. Have you begun teaching yet?
Peter. Have I missed the opening of your pub?
Ivan. I am so pleased for you, your new position sounds very exciting.
I would love to hear from all of you. Please write and tell me how you are doing.
I am also excited that there will be a school built on the old Stalag 13 site. What a wonderful thing to build there. There couldnít be a better thing dedicated to ĎPapa Bearí than that. I will definitely be there for the dedication.
My new address is 1892 Rue du Pont de L, 75006, Paris.
Hammelburg, Germany, Office of the Military Governor,
Major General Robert Hogan, August 10, 1946, 0900 Hours
Lieutenant Kevin Waters was waiting apprehensively for General Hogan to arrive at the office. It probably wasnít going to be a good day. When Waters got to the office this morning he saw Wilhelm Klink dropping a letter and package off for the General. Klink had told Waters that he was taking a leave of absence and would be gone for at least a month. Klink said that the letter would explain everything to the General.
Strange, thought Waters. Of all times to take a leave. Because that means that Klink wonít be attending the Generalís sonís christening either. The General had been deeply hurt, when late yesterday, he got word that another friend, Hans Shultz, would not be able to come either. Itís seems very odd that neither man told the General in person. In the year that Iíve known Wilhelm Klink, it has always seemed that he and the General were close. And as much as Iíve only met Hans Shultz twice, the Generalís relationship with him seemed even closer, and they talked often.
Rob Hogan entered his outer office and noticed almost immediately that his aide, Lieutenant Waters, was already tense. Not a good way to start the day. "Good morning Lieutenant, is something wrong?" Hogan asked.
"Sir, Good morning sir. Iím sorry sir. Itís just that. Um. Well, Whilhem Klink was here very early this morning and left a letter and a package for you. Itís in your office, sir. He said he was taking a leave of absence and would be gone for a month. He said the letter would explain sir," Waters said as fast as he could. He then waited for the inevitable explosion. It didnít happen. The General didnít say a word, just went into his office and closed the door behind him.
Rob sat at his desk and stared at the letter and package on his desk. Twice in two days, a letter and a package. So Wilhelm, youíre not going to be around for the christening, either. Shultz not coming was bad enough. His letter didnít even explain his reasoning. I was going to call him today. But, why you? Why would you be leaving all of a sudden? A leave of absence? Out of the blue? Thatís a load of bunk. Whatís going on?
August 10, 1946
I am writing this letter to you on behalf of Hans and myself. He just couldnít put his feelings into words. Iím having trouble myself. But you deserve an explanation. Neither of us could face you with this. The words would never have come properly in person. We hope you understand. We hope that after this month, we can continue our friendships, but that too may not be possible.
Please accept our sincerest apologies for missing Michaelís christening. Both of us had thought we would be able to come. We had looked forward to being there for you and Beth and Michael. We had both foolishly started to believe that we could be part of your family, even if it was to be just surrogate uncles to Michael.
As the day approached though, I saw how thrilled you were that your entire family was going to be together for this very special occasion. It was then, I realized, that neither Hans nor I have any right to believe that we could ever be included in your family. It was nothing that you did, believe me.
Neither of us could ever possibly face your family. For over three years, both Hans and I were your captors. I realize that through most of that time, you could have done what ever you wanted. And Hans and I have come to terms with that, personally. I know that the three of us have also made our peace with one another. Thatís why Hans and I foolishly began to think we could make more of our relationship with you and your new family.
But we also know Rob, that during your incarceration, you never told your parents and siblings about your operation. It was understandably a secret. So for three and a half years your family knew us as nothing but your captors. Iím sure you mentioned both Hans and me in your letters. Even if under the best circumstances, you told them nothing. We were still responsible for keeping their son and/or brother locked up in a POW camp, and not always under the best of conditions. Their worries, their fears, and their anger, for over three years, was directed at me alone. And Hans possibly. There is no way that Hans and I could face your family. There is nothing that we could say that would ever give your parents back over three years of their sonís life.
So, please accept our apology. I hope you can understand our feelings. We are very sorry to have hurt yours. I will be staying in Heidelberg with Hans for the next month. I would hope that I could return to work with you, after your family leaves for the states, but I will understand if you appoint someone else to take over for me. My brother Wolfgang will stay on until you make a decision. I didnít want to leave you hanging. I only have one request and that is, for you not to involve Wolfgang or my mother in this situation. They both understand the situation, and that we may have to move on after this month, but that is all I want to burden them with.
One last thing, please do not try and change our minds. After four years in your acquaintance, Iíve gotten better at anticipating your next move. Hans and I will not force ourselves onto your family. And we will certainly not lie to your family either. We will not pretend that we are not who we were. I may be your budget appropriations manager now. But that will never take away that we were still the men who, in their eyes, kept you incarcerated.
Again we are sorry. But we both want to wish you the best with Michael. You and Beth will make wonderful parents. I left a present for Michael along with this letter. Hans told me he was sending one as well. Please take good care of that little boy. He was born under three different Flags. American, English and German. As he gets older, he will find himself in a unique position, maybe to help his father bring about a change in this world.
Rob looked up from the letter. Feelings of anger, guilt, and sorrow hit him all at once. Anger won out. He stood and exited his office. "Waters. Get me a flight to Heidelberg for tomorrow morning. Iíll need transportation once I arrive at the airport. I will need a return flight as well for late in the day," Rob said as he left his office, not giving Waters a chance to respond.
Rob got in his car and drove. Without much conscious thought, he ended up at the Stalag 13 site. He sat quietly for long time. The anger dissipated. I donít know what to do. I canít possibly just barge into Hans home. That would do nothing to solve this. How can I make them believe that my family will accept them? How can I even be sure that my family will accept them? I canít be sure. Iíve never even dreamed that Iíd be involved in this situation. I never expected it to be an issue. I thought that we, the three of us, were past where anything like this would be an issue. I guess in this case, Iíve had blinders on. What can I do now?
Rob drove back to his office. As he entered, he sheepishly said, "Lieutenant, Iím sorry. Please cancel those plans youíve made for my flight to Heidelberg. I will not be traveling there tomorrow. Iím sorry, that I flew off the handle. I apologize for making you go to any trouble," the General said as he returned to his own office.
August 10, 1946
Before I decided to write, you almost had me as a houseguest Hans. I had poor Kevin here rushing around trying to get a flight to Heidelberg for as soon as possible. My plans were to tell you both in person how unfounded, idiotic, selfish, and insane your position was. Temper, temper. It would have done wonders for our friendships huh? What do you think?
I finally came to my senses.
I certainly do not want to forsake our friendships. Youíve both have come to mean a lot to me. You have both done amazing things in helping to rebuild your country. I could not have done as much without either of you. So, weíll just get past this month. Okay? Wilhelm you canít get out of your job that easily.
I spent a long time today trying to make myself believe that my family would accept you, without repercussions. I wanted to believe that they wouldnít be that petty. I wanted to be able to say to you with confidence that this whole thing wasnít going to be an issue. What I came to realize was that I couldnít promise you anything. And that hurt me, more than you could know.
My family are good people. But, I never actually had a conscious thought about what they might feel about our relationship. I never even thought it would be an issue. But, you were right, I never told them anything about my operation. And they did spend all that time worrying about me. And I spent a lot of time sugar coating my experiences at Stalag 13 for them. My family has yet to forgive me, for lying to them for over three years. I guess, I shouldnít expect them to accept you both unconditionally, even though that is truly what I would like to see happen.
So, Iím at a loss. I would truly like you both to be here to celebrate Michaelís christening. It would make the day more complete. I have two families, you know. The one from Bridgeport CT, that I was born into and the one here, in Germany, that I was born into by fire. Both are very important to me. But I understand and will respect your wishes. Just donít think you can forsake your new nephew forever. Uncle Wilhelm. Uncle Hans.
I will see you both in a month. Both your presents for Michael, will be waiting unopened until we can open them in your presence.
Hammelburg, Germany, Train Station, August 20, 1946, 1300 Hours
Michael Hogan led his family off the train. Rob had provided them with excellent directions on how to get to Hammelburg via rail. Their lack of understanding of German had really not been an issue. They had spent the rail journey looking at the countryside. It was beautiful, like Rob had told them it was. But what had really astonished everyone were the ruins. More than a year after the war was over and some parts of the cities and towns still lay in ruins. The devastation suffered by this country must have been horrendous.
"Dad!" A voice called out and Michael scanned the crowded platform and spotted Rob waving at them from near the station entrance.
Rob shook hands with his father, John and Ed and hugged his mother and sister. He squatted briefly to say hello to his nephew Stephen. "How was the trip?" Rob asked.
"Good. Long, but we didnít have any difficulties," Michael replied. "Your directions were terrific."
"Iíve had lots of practice. Come on, weíll get your bags and go on to the house," Rob replied grinning, he led the way to the baggage car where the bags were being off loaded. He called out something in German and one of the handlers immediately pointed out a group of bags. Rob said something again, and two of the station men picked up the bags and followed them.
"I donít have room to get all of you to the house in my car," Rob said exiting the train station and leading the way to where two cars were parked. A man was leaning against one of the cars. "So, Mom, Dad and John can ride with me. Sue; you, Ed and Stephen can ride with Heinrich and weíll get all the bags back somehow. Luckily Phyllis and Joan are coming tomorrow. Joe will be here on Friday."
"Heinrich Berger, my mother and father, Michael and Mary; my brother John, my sister Sue, her husband Ed and their son Stephen," Rob introduced them to the man who had been leaning against a battered old black car.
"Pleasure to meet you all at last," Heinrich said in German accented English. "Robertís told us all about you."
I wish the reverse were true. Michael thought to himself, smiling and shaking the Germanís hand. They had no idea who this man was.
Rob and Heinrich along with John and Ed loaded the bags and shortly they were all driving through town.
"Is this a hotel?" Michael asked when Rob turned into the drive of a large, castle like structure.
"No," Rob replied. "This is my home. I told you I had lots of room. I bought it shortly after I returned to Germany last year. I liked the place the first time I was here, and when the office told me I should have a better residence than the house I was going to buy, I told them to come up with a list of available places. This one was on the list. I bought it. Beth and I spent the better part of the last year doing some refurbishing, but itís all done now."
"But itís a castle!" His mother protested.
"Yeah, I know. Itís definitely bigger than what we need. But the office demanded something a little showier than a two story Tudor farmhouse," Rob replied. "The man who owned the place saved my life once, though I doubt he realized it at the time. His daughter wanted to sell; the father and son were both killed during the war. I bought it. It was quite reasonable." Rob pulled his car up at the front entrance. Beth came out of the house.
"Welcome. I see you made it here in one piece," Beth said with a welcoming smile.
After the bags were sorted and Heinrich had left, Rob led his family through the halls of the mansion.
"A little ostentatious son, donít you think?" Michael finally asked his oldest son after being shown the library. It was amazing that his son owned this place.
Rob laughed and replied, "Dad, after sleeping on a bloody cot with hardly any mattress or blanket for over three years I was dammed well going to make myself comfortable on my return to Germany."
Michael stared expressionless at his son, then turned and walked away.
Rob groaned inwardly. Obviously that comment didnít go over well.
New York City, USA, Apartment Building of ĎSgt.í Chris Matthews, August 24, 1946
Chris Matthews eagerly returned home from the theatre every evening. His mailbox was generally filled with responses from the men on his list. This night though, before he could go upstairs to sort the mail out, the superintendent for his building called out to him.
"Mr. Matthews, your mailbox has been overflowing everyday for these past two weeks. This canít continue. You are over-burdening the office," the superintendent informed him.
Chris smiled, "Iím sorry, Mr. Albert. My correspondence is likely to be heavy for the next year. Iím organizing sort of a field trip to Germany for next September."
"Why in the world would you want to go to Germany?" The super asked him astonished.
"It would be a return to Germany, coupled with a reunion," Chris replied. "Iíve got half the list, and my buddy Steve Marlow has the other. I canít wait, itís quite an honor theyíre paying to us."
"What do you mean? Honor?" Albert asked surprised at Mr. Matthewsís comment.
"Theyíre building a school, and dedicating it to ĎPapa Bear,í" Chris replied with a grin. "Itís amazing that weíre being recognized like that!"
"You were Papa Bear?" Albert asked. He remembered reading about the agent in the papers. It had made quite a media splash about a year ago. Every now and then another article was written.
"No. Not me," Chris replied with a broad grin. "I was one of his operations staff. ĎPapa Bearí was the senior officer in Camp, a ĎColonelí Robert Hogan. He kept us all alive, sane and working together during three and a half long years in prison. We would have done anything for him. Hell, we did do anything for him!"
"You were in prison?" Albert asked surprised. He didnít know anything about Chris Matthews, except he paid his rent on time and in full, was quiet, and got along with everyone in the building.
"A Prisoner of War Camp," Chris replied. "Almost four years a resident at Luft Stalag 13, outside of Hammelburg Germany. When we left London, after being liberated, the Colonel asked me to keep half of the list of men, Steve got the other half. 1,000 men each."
"I didnít know. Iím sorry," Albert replied astonished. He hadnít really believed the news stories. How the Hell could anyone do what had been reported?
"Donít be," Chris replied. "Those years were hard, but I wouldnít have missed them. If the letters bother the office, leave them in a cardboard box, Iíll pick them up every night. Or I can arrange for the mail to be held at the post office."
"No. Thatís all right. We will deal with the extra mail," Albert replied. He was going to go to the library tomorrow and re-read those newspaper articles. Imagine having a bonafide war hero in his building! Just wait till he told his wife.
"Thanks Mr. Albert," Chris said. "You know, I meant to tell you that Iíll be gone for five weeks starting the end of September. I should be back in early November. Iíll be traveling with my theatre company to London. Weíll be celebrating the grand reopening of the London Palladium with a month long performance schedule. Iím going to have a friend come by when he can and pick up the mail. Hopefully that wonít be a problem. His name is Steve Marlow. I donít want you to have him arrested for mail fraud."
"Thatís okay, tell him I will keep any overflow in my apartment and he can come get it there," the super said.
"Thanks again, Mr. Albert," Chris said as he picked up the mail and eagerly entered his apartment to sort through the mail. He found one of particular interest.
August 21, 1946
It was great to hear from you, and for such a reason! Of course I will be there. I have begun medical school, but regardless of what is going on next September I will be in Germany.
It will be great to see the boys, and to hear what everyone has been doing. We were such a diverse group of men; some of the stories are liable to be hilarious! I am sure that from among the 2,000 of us thereís at least one of every occupation.
I will be accompanied by my wife, Cathy and father, Jim. Cathy doesnít want me to give up the month of September, sheíd like me to continue with my studies uninterrupted. I hope that I have convinced her that this is more important to me than any degree could possibly be.
Please let me know if I can do anything to help you and Steve organize this. I feel kind of left out of the loop, it was always the four of us Ö Kinch, me, you and Steve. Now you and Steve have all the responsibility.
ĎSgtí Edgar Wilson
So, Wilson was going to be able to attend. That made 54 already who were definitely going, 16 possible, one on his list, Paul Walters had died in a car crash three months ago, and 30 more were unaccounted for. Steve and he were going to give it to the end of the month before they sent the first report off to ĎColonelí Hogan. But it looked like there was going to be a very respectable number of the men on hand to dedicate the school and honor their former commanding officer.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, August 26, 1946, 2200 Hours
It was late, but it was the first time in days that Rob Hogan had some time to himself. With the entire Hogan family here, as well as Bethís mom and sister, and Louis LeBeau and Andrew Carter, the house had been completely jammed with people for days. It was great!
Actually, Louis and Andrew just left this morning. -- I had taken some time to talk to Louis. I told him, I would do what I can to help locate his father and youngest sister. I feel so awful. Itís the least I can do. It may still not be enough but Iíll do what I can. As for Andrew, what can you say? He hasnít changed. He still looks at the world through rose-colored glasses and with his same child-like enthusiasm. And Iím glad.
Now that Rob had some time, he wanted to write to Ivan and Peter. He wanted to tell them all about the christening before he let too much time go by -- again.
August 26, 1946
Before too much time went by, I wanted to tell you about Michaelís christening. We had quite the houseful, and still do at this point. My entire family, Bethís mom and sister, Louis and Andrew. All staying with us at the house. Itís great. Actually Louis and Andrew left just this morning. Everyone else will be here for another week. Iím writing this at 10:00pm. Itís the first time that Iíve had some quiet time, since the troops landed. Iím not complaining. Itís the first time in over six years that my entire family has been in the same place at the same time.
Peter did I ever tell you that I bought the von Leiter Mansion when I returned to Germany. It was a Ďstealí when I bought it. Completely furnished. It seemed that the previous owner left in a bit of a hurry! You should have seen the look on everyoneís face when they pulled up in front of it. I had never told my family what kind of house I bought, just that it had needed refurbishing. As I showed my father around the house, he said "A little ostentatious son, donít you think?" I just laughed and said that after sleeping on a bloody cot with hardly any mattress or blanket for over three years, that Iíd be dammed if I werenít going to make myself comfortable on my return to Germany. Nobody else thought that was funny though. Oops.
It was great to see Andrew and Louis.
Andrew hasnít changed. He still retains the same innocence that he always had. He was a big hit with my family, though. They wanted to adopt him. Then I told them that he was my demolitions expert during our operation. They looked at me stupid and refused to believe me, until Andrew started spouting technical jargon about demolition packs, dynamite, fuses, etc. You know how he could go on. And on. I actually let him this time. You should have seen the look on my familyís faces. Too funny.
Louis looked great. He was very upbeat, but I could see the underlying sadness. I told him that I would help him continue his search for his father and younger sister. I hope I can, at the very least, give him some closure. Other than that, he was doing well. He thinks he has found a place for his restaurant. Nothing concrete yet though. Oh yeah, he made three huge pans of chicken divan for after the christening. Wonderful. I tried to tell my family we ate like that all the time during our stay at Stalag 13. Unfortunately, they didnít believe me.
On a somewhat unsettling note, at least for me, was that both Wilhelm and Hans told me they werenít going to make the christening. I had been deeply hurt at first. But, I couldnít deny their reasons. Neither man wanted to face my family. They couldnít face them, knowing that they were the men who kept us all incarcerated for over three years. I know that weíve all worked it out, but they couldnít bring themselves to confront my family. I just wanted to say Ďnothingí (to coin a phrase) about their occupations during the war. They both refused to lie to my family, so they chose not to be present at the christening. I had told them I understood, but it still hurt.
But there was unexpected good news. Both men did show up for the church service. They stayed in the back of the church, trying to be unobtrusive. I know, that they know, I saw them. I had asked Ursula to talk to them for me, to see if they changed their minds about meeting my family. They hadnít. But they told her, that they just couldnít miss, at least, part of Michaelís special day. I know how hard that must have been for them. But, like Iíve said over and over again in the past year or so, they keep surprising me.
As for the party after the christeningÖ Thank God I bought the von Leiter place. There had to have been over 75 people who came. Most of course, you both would know. It was nice to see everyone. There were some language issues, but the Freilings adopted my parents and translated for them and the Bergerís did the same for my sister and her husband. It worked out very well. My brothers had Louis and Andrew to help as well. And after a year, Beth has the language mastered as well. She translated for her family. Everyone seemed to get along fine. Which was great. I, of course, had to mingle. Being Military Governor still has its protocols, you know.
Oh. One funny comment overheard. My dad asked Werner Kemp where he met me. Werner was funny and said; "Generally we met in the haystack outside my barn." Too funny, but try explaining that to your father afterwards. He stopped asking that question. Ha.
Overall, it was a great day. This past week has been great for me too. I got to spend so much time with my family, and Bethís family. It feels like weíve never been apart. And Iíve still got another week with them all. All the old habits are falling into place.
I know my parents were nervous at first, about coming to Germany. A country, that at present, wasnít high on anyoneís list to visit. And on top of that, neither of my parents have ever been out of the New England area. But itís been so nice to see that they have literally become enamored with the Freilings and the Bergers.
Wow this turned out to be a long letter.
Peter. I want you to know, that Beth and I, and my brother are going to take you up on the offer of Opening Night. I wouldnít miss it. Beth and I and Michael will be staying with Bethís mom in London. That way we have a babysitter. I donít think Michael would enjoy Opening Night. Or at least, others wonít enjoy Michael at Opening Night. Iím so looking forward to being there for you. See you soon.
Ivan. Youíre in for it now. Just so you know, my family has been snapping more pictures than you can ever imagine. My mother already has the meal sheís going to serve. So you better give them a call or they might even drive to Fort Devens one weekend and kidnap you. Iím not kidding. Be forewarned.
Keep writing guys.
As Rob put down his pen, he heard a knock on the library door. It was his mother and father. "Come on in," he said. "Have a seat. Would you like a drink?" Rob got up to hit the liquor cabinet. He poured out some scotch for his father and wine for his mother. They both had made themselves comfortable, but were very quiet. He started to make small talk. "So, you guys enjoying your stay so far?"
"Everything has been great Rob," his dad answered. "Youíve made some wonderful friends here. The Freilings and the Bergers. Amazing. Itís still hard for your mom and me to take it all in. We still have a hard time fathoming that these people were working with you against Hitler. None of the people that we met yesterday even seem capable of deceit. I guess I shouldnít say it that way, though. Iím sorry."
"No dad, thatís okay. Deceit is the right word. But at least it was for the right cause. They were working for something they believed in. Securing their country from Hitler. They are a very strong people. When they decided to help me, they committed themselves wholeheartedly," Rob said. "Thatís also why we had a tough time defeating Hitler. He had more than his share of strong committed people on his side. Letís just be thankful itís over."
"Yeah, you can say that again," his father, replied. "Rob, your mother and I were talking before we came in here. We had noticed that of all the people we met in the past week, not one of them was this Wilhelm or Hans that you have spent so much time in your letters telling us about. We thought that they would be the first people we would get to meet. Will we get to meet them?" Michael Hogan asked, thinking that he noticed a small flicker of Ďsomethingí show on his sonís face, but it disappeared quickly.
Okay Hogan, you now need a good excuse. "No, Iím sorry, you wonít. Both men have extended to me, their apologies. Hans runs that orphanage/toy factory in Heidelberg I told you about. He just couldnít get away. Wilhelm had a family emergency. Heís traveling now. Neither was going to be able to make it for your visit. I guess, I should have told you before this. They both had wanted to be here, but things just come up, you know?" Rob said quickly. He hoped that would be the end of the discussion.
"Oh thatís very strange then," interjected his mother. "I swore I overheard Ursula and Beth talking about seeing them both at the church. Guess I misunderstood." Mary Hogan carefully watched her son Rob for a reaction. There it was, guilt. Again heís lying.
"Must have, neither man was there," Rob said, his heart pounding. He could never lie to his parents. They could always see through it. "I am sorry, you wonít get to meet them. Both men have worked hard to rebuild their country. Iím proud to know them." Get off the subject Rob. "So would you want me to take you out to the site of Stalag 13? Itís an empty field now. But if youíre interested, we can go tomorrow."
"Okay Rob," said Michael. "Maybe you were good at subterfuge during the war against Hitlerís Third Reich. But you stink at it now. You see I overheard the same conversation that your mother did. Why is it that you donít want us to meet them?"
Damn, I was hoping to avoid this conversation all together. "Iím sorry. It was not my idea, but I agreed with their decision to stay away from the christening. They surprised me though and came for the church service, but I knew that was as far as they would go. You see, both men are very sensitive to your feelings about my being incarcerated in Stalag 13 for over three years. Actually, the whole situation at Stalag 13 has put both of these men into a difficult position. They could not face all of you. Wilhelm, Hans and I, as well as the rest of my Ďpeopleí, have come to terms with each other. Weíve all moved beyond the past and are working toward the future. Your visit here just brought everything home to roost for both Wilhelm and Hans. You see. Oh God, this is hard to say to you. You see. Wilhelm was the Kommandant of Stalag 13 and Hans was the Sergeant of the guard. Klink and Shultz. I know I mentioned them in my letters during my years at Stalag 13. It was impossible for both men to face you. They didnít want to force their presence on you. They thought things would be better if they were not around," Rob explained, hoping that his family could understand.
Rob saw two very surprised speechless people staring back at him. Then he saw anger appear on their faces. Damn. Wilhelm was right. "Whoa, before you both go flying off the handle. You have to know something. There are two very important reasons that my operation was successful at Stalag 13. Klink for one and Shultz for the other. They have both come to terms with my blatantly using them for my own agenda. But my agenda only worked because both men were basically decent human beings caught between a rock and a hard place. Neither man ever really supported Hitlerís Third Reich. Neither man had much of a choice. Death was their only other option. So, somehow we worked out a system, where they ignored my crazy activity and I kept them safe and sound at Stalag 13. They both had assumed that I was just a con man, trying to keep my men safe and sound. Neither man, until the end, ever really knew anything about the extent of my operation. But they were a vital part of its success. So donít jump to conclusions about them. Okay?" He pleaded.
"No, itís not okay. This is just impossible to believe Rob," his dad said. "I canít understand how you can be this forgiving. Your letters to us were always sugar coated. And we knew it. Iíve read accounts of POW camps. I know that life there was not easy. And to think that you could even consider the persons in charge of places like that friends, just makes me wonder if youíd been brainwashed somehow. I just donít understand it. And on top of that, you are still lying to us. Is it ever going to stop?"
"Listen mom, dad. POW camps were awful, but Wilhelm Klink tried his damndest in a tough situation to run Stalag 13 close to what the Geneva Convention demanded. All the while trying not to look too lenient. It was a hard balance. And that was his decision. I had no control over that. But because of that though, I was able to get away with what I did," Rob said emphatically. "As for Hans Shultz, he would never have survived this war, under someone else command. The man is one of the most non-confrontational, decent men, that Iíve ever met," Rob tried to read his parentís faces.
"You still donít look convinced," Rob said getting angry. "Look, Iím sorry Iíve lied to you. But, all of what I just told you is true. But I guess, you need concrete proof. Well, Iím your concrete proof. The fact that Iím standing in front of you today is concrete proof of both menís decency. You both know, I was injured during the last two months in that camp. My injuries were from a Gestapo interrogation. If it wasnít for Wilhelm Klink, I would be dead." Here we go. "I would have died during that interrogation. Wilhelm stopped the interrogation, just before the Gestapo Major put a bullet in my head. Not a pretty picture huh? But, you are both so determined to have the truth. There it is, then. I owe him my life. Or would you rather me, six feet under?" Oh God, did I just say that?
Before Rob had another thought, his mother got up, slapped him across the face and ran from the room. His father quickly followed his wife, but turned back and said. "What the hellís the matter with you Rob? How could you say that to your mother? How could you be so unfeeling and put that picture in her head?" He then left the library as well, without another word.
God damn it. They wonít let the truth remain hidden and I canít tell them the truth either. That would be worse than lying to them. What am I supposed to do now?
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, August 27, 1946, 0630 Hours
It had been a long sleepless night for Rob Hogan. He was sure by now his whole family knew about last nightís confrontation. I donít know what to do? I cannot tell them everything Iíve done. Itís taken me this long to come to terms with most of it myself. Iíve done too many things Iím not proud of. Iíve almost died a few too many times as well. How are you supposed to explain that to your parents? But, I would still do it all again. It was necessary.
He heard Michael cry and as Beth was starting to get up he said, "Iíll go Beth. You sleep. I havenít been able to." Rob Hogan went and picked up Michael and took him into the kitchen to get him something to eat. Beth had been breast-feeding, but they were trying to slowly wean him off. This way Rob could help out more. He prepared the formula and went to sit in the sunroom, right off the kitchen. He and Michael just sat and relaxed.
It wasnít very long before Ursula showed up. Both Ursula and Olga had been taking turns coming over to help cook for the Hogan family while they were in town. Rob had offered to hire some young woman from Hammelburg to do all the work. Both Ursula and Olga, the two most stubborn women heís ever met, would not hear of any such thing, so theyíve almost been camped at the house since the Hogan family arrived. "Good morning Robert. Michael," Ursula said. She noticed that Michael and Robert were both starting to dose in the early morning sun. "Here, here Robert. Donít go falling asleep with your son in your lap. Let me put him back to bed. Oskar will be here shortly anyway, for his checkup." Before Rob could blink, Michael was on his way back to bed.
Rob then went back into the kitchen and started brewing some coffee. He sat quietly at the table. Doc Freiling had come in and had gone right into Michaelís room to check on him. Robís mother and father entered the kitchen just as he started drinking his first cup of coffee. "Good morning?" he asked quietly.
Neither parent answered their son right away. They had heard the baby and assumed Beth would be up. They wanted to talk to someone, who knew their sonís perspective. They didnít know what to say to their son. Mary went and got both of them a cup of coffee. They joined their son at the table. "Rob, we donít know what to say. Your mother spent the night crying. How could you have been so callous? I really donít understand you, Rob. What other lies have you told us? Or maybe the question is what havenít you told us? Can we believe anything you say anymore? Every time we turn around, we find out some awful hidden truth from you. How can we ever truly believe you again?" Michael said emphatically.
Rob took a deep breath trying to compose an answer. But before he could start, Beth, Oskar and Ursula returned from checking on the baby. Ursula was the first one to speak. "Michael Hogan," she said purposefully. "Why are you berating your son? So much time apart and you want to yell at him, for things he had no control over. Shame on you." She came almost to the table to face him. "Our time in this world is too short. Donít waste that time. Your son was doing what he needed to do. There are many things that he cannot tell you. War is war. Bad things happen. You should be glad that you have a son that survived this war. A son who just gave you a beautiful grandson. A son who most of the people you met yesterday, owe their life. If you are to be angry with someone, it is all of us, who your son sacrificed so much to help." She was so close to him now, she poked him in the chest with her fore finger. "Now stop. Life is to precious a thing to waste on anger," she continued to stare at him, but her demeanor softened.
Doc Freiling interjected. "Michael. Mary," he said noticing that the rest of the Hogan family was joining them in the kitchen. "All of you. Beth just told Ursula and myself what started this argument. Life is indeed to precious a thing to waste on anger. We have known your son for four years now. I think that in our hearts, he has become as much our son, as yours. We have had a relationship tested by the real fires of war. It was never easy. But we, Ursula and I and those you met yesterday, had to learn to trust your sonís judgment. That was not easy for a stubborn people, such as we. Even your son can attest to that stubbornness. We have all done things that we will never speak of openly. But what it all boils down to is that your son brought us together as a whole, to defeat Hitler. And that Ďusí eventually included Wilhelm Klink and Hans Shultz. We were all skeptical at first, but once again your sonís judgment has born out to be true. Both men are now part of our extended Ďfamilyí here in Germany. They are good men, working hard at rebuilding what we have lost. Now it is time for all of you to learn to trust Robertís judgment."
At first, no one made a sound. Everyone had sort of taken a collective breath. Finally Rob broke the silence. "Look everyone," he began. "I am sorry that you are upset with me. Iím sorry that I canít tell you everything. Hitlerís Third Reich needed to be defeated. To that end, Iíve done many things that Iím not proud of. I would indeed do it all again if the situation presented itself. I know that itís hard for you to understand my perspective. There are horrible memories of this war that will live with me forever. And Iím sorry to say I canít blame all those horrible memories on the enemy. The means that we used to defeat Hitler were more often than not, brutal and cold-blooded. But it was necessary," Rob explained quietly. He paused then asked, "Can we just get past this?"
"Dad, heís right you know," Joe agreed. "I wanted to side with you in this, because I was angry at and maybe even a little jealous of my now infamous big brother. But heís right. Thereís too much bad that has happened. We should just move on. Letís embrace the fact that we can all be together to have this argument."
"Yeah, maybe we should," Michael said. But, then there was a long uncomfortable silence. Rob, Beth, Ursula and Oskar took it as a cue to leave the rest of the family to their thoughts. They exited the house and sat out in the courtyard.
A while later, Michael Hogan approached the group in the courtyard. "Rob. We all talked. Everyone. We are sorry, that we forced you to tell us things that were better kept hidden. We will try not to confront you again, but we all wanted you to know that we can handle more than youíve given us credit for. So if you ever do need to talk about those things, we will listen. Anyway, I composed a letter that I would like you to give to Wilhelm and Hans for me. Iím still not sure that I could face those two men. But if the only decent thing those men ever did, in this lifetime, was to save your life, then I will not forsake your friendship with them," his father said. "Like I said, I donít think I could talk to them face to face. Not now, maybe not ever. But I needed to say thank you. We all needed to. Will you give this to them?" his father asked.
Rob took the letter. "I will only give it to them after Iíve read it. I will not give them a letter that tears into them. Okay?" his father nodded and went back into the house. Rob read the letter.
August 27, 1946
Wilhelm Klink, Hans Shultz,
I have asked Rob to give you this letter. I hope that you will receive it in the spirit in which it is intended. We forced Robís hand, not knowing what he was to tell us, but just having been genuinely curious as to why the two people that he mentioned most in his letters home in the past year, were not any where to be found. We found it even more curious, when we heard Ursula and Beth talking about seeing you both in church.
So, we confronted Rob. He tried to give you both logical excuses for not attending the christening. But, you see as his father, Iíve had the unhappy experience of having seen him lie through his teeth before. This time was no different.
Admittedly, we were all shocked to find out your occupations during the war. Iím sorry to say that our first reaction was not one of acceptance. Iím not even sure that we can accept it still. But, at this point, our feelings are not important. My son told me that you both in one way or another have saved his life. For that, I can only thank you both from the bottom of my heart.
My son means the world to me. I donít know what we would do without him. So if he tells me that you both are his friends, then thatís the way it will be. I will not forsake his friendship with both of you. But, I have to admit, that Iím still not comfortable with this. Maybe in time, that will change. But what it does mean, is that you Wilhelm and you Hans, are expected to be present at any future gatherings of this family. We would expect nothing less from friends of my son.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan,
Parents of Major General Robert Hogan, September 10, 1946, 1030 Hours
Michael Hogan was just entering the house. He had just returned from some errands. His arms were full of puppy and letters as he walked in the door. The whole family had just returned from Germany late last night. He had gone to the Post Office to pick up the mail that they had stopped during their trip to Germany. He had also picked up the puppy from the kennel.
Mary grabbed the mail and left the puppy with Michael. Michael was shocked. I guess she thinks sheís safe for a while, having just seen everyone in the same place. What a wonderful time we had. There were some rough spots, but those were all worked out by the time we left. It was just great to have everyone together again, even if it was only for a couple of weeks. Michael then saw a look of panic come over Maryís face. She glanced at him worriedly. The letter she held in her hand had a return address of Hammelburg, Germany. But the two names listed, Wilhelm Klink and Hans Shultz, told of whom the letter was from.
September 1, 1946
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hogan
Both Hans and I are very grateful for your correspondence with us. We are at a loss for what to say to you both. We can apologize to you for how our occupations during the war kept you separated from your son. But, we know nothing we say, can change that fact, and for that we are sorry.
Your son and his family have come to mean a lot to us. Our relationship has always been one of contradictions. Both Hans and I have been bested many many times by your son. More times than we care to remember. When we finally came to the realization, that his path was the correct path, it was difficult and our pride suffered. But your son is a man of honesty, dignity, and integrity. And that is the stepping-stone from which our present relationship has emerged.
We hope that someday, we can meet in the middle and bring the chasm that exists between us to a close. But Hans and I will never force that meeting on you. Maybe our relationship will never be more than with your son as the buffer between us. But we are glad that you have accepted our need to remain as friends to your son.
Finally, we want to congratulate you on the birth of your grandson, Michael. We know how much he means to his parents. And if Robís love for his son is any indication of the home that he grew up in, it makes us even sadder for the rift, in that home, we almost caused during your visit here.
We will say this to you. Please do not repeat this to your son. If you ever feel that we will be infringing, with our presence, on any Hogan family gathering, please let us know. We will certainly stay away. It will be as hard an excuse to come up as the one we tried to use for your recent visit. Your son doesnít bend easily nor does he take no for an answer. But we will do as you wish and stay away. Again, we will never force our presence on you.
Wilhelm Klink, Hans Shultz
"Well what do you know?" Michael said, reading over the letter Mary had thrust at him. "I didnít expect to hear back from them."
"What are we to do now?" Mary asked apprehensive.
"Rob does want us to make peace. Theyíre certainly upholding their end. I think perhaps we should try as well," Michael replied. "All we need is to find some sort of common ground with which to continue the correspondence that theyíve begun with this letter."
Mary nodded in agreement. We should try. Everyone we met in Germany holds the same high opinion of them that Rob does. That must count for something.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, September 15, 1946, 0230 Hours
Beth was lying anxiously in bed next to her husband. Rob was having another nightmare. She couldnít help but remember their first three months in Germany. Rob had had nightmares almost nightly for those first three months. The nightmares finally subsided and Rob hadnít had one in almost nine months. That was until this week. The nightmares returned after his parents had left for the states almost a week ago. What brought them back on?
He had had three very specific nightmares, each playing itself out in very specific way. These are definitely the same nightmares. I can always tell which one heís having. His body reacts in a unique way to each one. I wish I could do something. But in those first few months nothing I did to help stop the nightmares ever worked. They had to run their course. I would have to wait until Rob woke to offer any comfort. It took him a long time to even tell me what the nightmares were about. They were horrible. He had told me before I married him, that he came with a lot of baggage. No matter, heís worth it, I couldnít love anyone more. I just wish I could help.
Tonight was a particularly bad night, Rob seemed to have cycled through all three nightmares in a row. That has never happened before. He usually wakes after each and generally only experiences one at time. Occasionally two come in the same night, but never together. Tonight all three, heís going to be exhausted. It would be one thing if he didnít have such physical reactions to the nightmares, but each one brought a new and different response.
Beth continued to watch helplessly as her husbandís body shook ceaselessly. It normally took a full ten minutes for this nightmare to play out. It was the worst of the three. This one was the one where the Gestapo discover his operation and many, many Gestapo storm Stalag 13, forcing a roll call before anyone can react. Then they remove Rob from the line-up and force him to watch as his men, all 2000, are gunned down in a mass execution. Rob usually wakes at the point when his own execution takes place. He has told me, that as he watches the mass execution; he can feel each and every bullet impact while his men are gunned down.
I wish I could do more than watch. Iím going to ask him to talk with Dr. Freiling. Originally, when the dreams first started, Rob didnít want to tell the doctor. He was having enough trouble re-establishing the trust that existed with the civilian population before he had left Germany. He didnít want to complicate the issue with the doctor knowing about his nightmares. So, he and I just suffered through the nightmares together. But they seem so much worse now. Maybe, I can get Rob to see Rodney Ballister when we go to London in a couple of weeks for the Grand-reopening of the London Palladium. Yeah, maybe that will work out better. But I will still broach the subject of telling Dr. Freiling in the morning.
Just then Rob woke startled and extremely distressed. He was breathing heavy and sweating profusely. His body was still showing signs of tremors. Beth did not dare to touch him yet; she waited until she saw his eyes began to focus on his surroundings. She had tried early on to quickly comfort him by taking him in her arms, but it had been the wrong thing to do. In his distressed state, he would lash out quite violently. Poor Rob, when I first told him that, he practically fell to his knees asking me to forgive him. Every night for the past week, he has apologized to me for having the nightmares. Heís more worried about me, than himself.
"Rob," Beth said softly as she began caressing his forehead. "Everythingís okay now."
Robís eyes slowly focused on her face. "Iím so sorry Beth. I just donít know whatís going on. I didnít hurt you or anything, did I?" His voice was still shaky and his breathing heavy.
"No Rob, you didnít," Beth comforted as she repositioned herself to take him into a full embrace, gently guiding his head to her chest. She continued to caress his forehead. "It was bad tonight, wasnít it?"
Robís body was tense at first. But then, almost childlike, he gratefully fell into her embrace resting his head gently on her chest. Feeling the warmth of her milk-laden breasts beneath his cheek gave him a feeling of serenity. The tension in his body lessened. He finally encircled her with his embrace and said, "Yeah really bad. It felt like it went on for days. Watching as everyone is killed when the Allies unexpectedly bomb Stalag13 on D-day. Watching my own execution at the hands of the Gestapo Major Hochstetter. And finally, watching the mass execution of all my men by the Gestapo after the raid on Stalag 13. God, all three came together tonight. I donít know if I canít take all three at once again. Damn, I wish they were the kind of dreams you wake up from and didnít remember. But I guess that would be too easy. As it is, I get to experience every minute of each nightmare as if I was really there." The worst part is that I could have Ďreallyí been there. Any one of those dreams could have happened. Actually two of them almost did. God Damn, I never had these nightmares while I was at Stalag 13. Why did they come after I returned to Germany and why now for Christís sake? - God Iím so tired.
"Iím so sorry Rob," Beth said. "I wish there was more I could do." Beth continued to quietly hold Rob in her arms, caressing his forehead and occasionally offering a gentle kiss. She knew from past experience that after a particularly bad night, this embrace would occasionally lead to some gentle foreplay and lovemaking. She always let Rob make the first move. Other than that, she just held him until he fell asleep. Whatever it takes, Iíll be here for him.
Rob lay awake for a long while cradled in Bethís arms, his head still resting on her chest. Finally, he began slowly caressing and gently suckling from her breasts. Beth responded as she always had, fully accepting his advances. Before long, Beth willingly slipped under her husband as he pushed his body up from the bed. Rob had felt Bethís body quiver with anticipation under him as he moved to cover her body with his. He fully intended to continue with their lovemaking, but as his eyes truly connected with Bethís for the first time, he just couldnít continue. Damn, I need to think about more than just myself. Donít be a selfish bastard. Rob kissed Beth gently on the lips and then rolled out of bed, saying, "Iím sorry Beth. Why donít you just try to get some sleep? Iíve already kept you up half the night. Michael is going to need you soon," he said and then quietly left the bedroom.
Beth had watched distraught as her husband left their bedroom. Rob had never walked out on her before, not even after a particularly bad nightmare. Oh God. I wish I knew what to do. Rob and I could easily lose ourselves in each otherís embrace before tonight. It never mattered who or what started the embraces or even why they started. The embraces were always something to be savored and cherished. That was also something that the war changed. The Rob Hogan I dated before his plane was shot down was always a very intense, driven, and purposeful lover. The Rob Hogan I married after his three years in that POW camp is a gentle, passionate lover who savors the entire lovemaking experience. It had helped us work through the nightmares together the first time. But now itís so different with Michael here. Michael understandably needs my undivided attention. But right now, so does Rob. Itís sad how Rob has been so standoffish to Michael all week. I know itís because Rob is afraid of falling asleep unexpectedly and lashing out and hurting him. I just donít know what to do. Rob needs more help than I can give him. I guess I will write to Rodney in the morning, hopefully he can help.
Rob had gone to the sunroom off the kitchen. He had sprawled on the cushioned love seat. Damn, I canít continue on like this. Poor Beth. Poor Michael. I havenít been the best husband or father this week. Iíve barely even touched Michael. Iíve left Beth with that responsibility. Iíve been so afraid to fall asleep. Iím worried that anytime I close my eyes, the nightmares will return. As it is, Iím a mess. I donít want to sleep but I also find myself dozing off at weird times, at work, at home. Because of that, I just canít bring myself to hold Michael. If I fell asleep, I would never forgive myself for lashing out in anger and hurting him. Iíve tried to spend as much time as possible with him, but Iíve only held him when Beth was around. Itís just that he is so vulnerable. Beth seems to understand my need to have her around when Iím holding Michael. She has never balked at anything. I donít know what I would do without her. Damn, I canít just ignore my child anymore and I shouldnít be putting all this pressure on Beth. I need to find a way to stop these nightmares. Beth doesnít have the time to be a new mom, and to placate her neurotic husbandís psyche. I need to be the one offering support, not getting it.
What can I do? Maybe I will go see a doctor at the military base in Wurzburg. I canít bring myself to tell Doc Freiling. He has enough of his own hidden truths. I donít want to burden him with mine. I guess Iíll see what the doctor at the base says. Iíll make an appointment in the morning.
Beth woke in the morning to find a note that said Rob had already left for the office. She had had to get up for Michael, not too long after Rob had left their bedroom, so she had known that Rob had spent the rest of the night in the sunroom off the kitchen. I couldnít bring myself to talk to Rob. I didnít know what to say. So I just fed and changed Michael and went back to bed. Iím so worried about Rob. Itís just that this whole thing is hitting him so much harder now than before. I need to do something. Beth sat down wrote the letter to Rodney Ballister.
September 15, 1946
Howís everything been? Howís your wife Stephanie? I know itís been a long time. Itís been quite a year for me. Being married to the Military Governor of the US Controlled Zone definitely has its perks. Rob has an unbelievable network of friends here. They are all incredible people. I now understand his passion for trying to help them.
We had a baby boy on July 15, 1946. Michael Robert Hogan. Healthy and Happy. Rob, Michael and I are coming to London on the 30th of September. Weíll be attending the Grand-reopening of the London Palladium. One of Robís men, Peter Newkirk, had bought it and refurbished it.
I guess maybe I should get to the point of this letter. I have a big favor to ask of you Rodney. As a way of a quick explanation, when Rob and I returned to Germany, Rob experienced some awful nightmares for our first few months here. He had them almost every night. Together, we worked through the nightmares ourselves. It was hard. But, Rob hadnít had another nightmare for almost nine months. That is, until this past week. And now they seem worse than before. The nightmares, as you might expect, all center on his experiences as a POW. He doesnít know Iím writing you. But, is there anyway you could set up some time to talk to him while we are in London? We are both at a loss, and he is reluctant to talk to the people here. Rob and I canít go though another few months like we did before and now with Michael in the picture, I donít have as much time to support Rob through this.
Iíd be forever grateful if you could help in any way.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, September 15, 1946, 1900 Hours
It had been a long day. Rob had actually gone to see a doctor, Doctor Kenneth Mitchell, at the military base in Wurzburg. He had called the base early in the morning to make an appointment; hoping beyond hope the doctors would be too busy to see him today. Of course, as Military Governor, he would never have needed to even make an appointment. Major General Robert Hogan was invited to come today, at his convenience.
Rob tried to get some work out of the way before heading to Wurzburg. Around noon, he had Lieutenant Waters drive him to the base, under threat of death for telling anyone why. Rob had decided to tell Waters, because the poor kid had been dealing with a neurotic commanding officer for a week now. He deserved some explanation, even if it was not the complete truth.
Naturally when he arrived, he received a tour of the base and then had to meet with all the command personnel as well. He had hoped to be in and out quickly, but he soon realized that wasnít going to be the case. On top of that, this facility did not have an updated medical history for him. Doctor Freiling has done his most recent physicals and had never sent the records. So Rob had to go through a short battery of tests as well.
After finally getting to meet Dr. Mitchell, the appointment actually went well. Rob hadnít found it as hard as he expected to open up to the doctor. The doctor spent a few hours with him. Rob explained each nightmare and that he knew from his wifeís description and by the way he felt after each nightmare that he had some serious physical reactions to each nightmare. Since the entire US Military now knows of my ĎPapa Bearí identity, Iím sure the doctors here have been waiting for me to crack since I got back to Germany. Well, I guess they got what they were waiting for.
Rob left the doctorís office with some medication and a schedule of follow-up appointments for the express purpose of continuing the discussions about his nightmares. The doctor made sure Rob realized that today was not going to solve the problem. He had a long road ahead, but the doctor wanted him to know that he should now be able to sleep, and not dream, with the medication he was given. The doctor also requested that his wife be present for as many of the follow-up sessions as possible. Rob then gathered up Lieutenant Waters and they drove back to Hammelburg.
Waters had just dropped General Hogan off at his house, at his request. It was late, and the General hadnít told anyone where they had gone today. Waters watched as the General went into his house, and then he drove himself home. The General said he would be out of the office for a couple days. Iíll have to pick him up for work when he returns, unless I can get someone to help me return the Generalís car tomorrow. I hope everything is all right. The General has been really out of sorts all week.
"Where have you been Rob?!" Beth scolded angrily, as Rob entered the kitchen. "Nobody at the office knew anything! They said you and Kevin just left without saying a word! You had me scared to death! Iíve been looking for you all afternoon!"
"Is there something wrong? Is Michael okay?" Rob asked panicky. Beth was really on edge. She was never that way, even in a crisis.
"Michaelís fine! Everythingís fine! I was just worried about you!" Beth answered rather loud and bordering on hysteria. "How dare you not tell anyone where you were going?!"
Rob tried to diffuse her anger. He walked over to Beth and placed both hands on her shoulders. He looked her directly in the eyes and said, "So, you were worried that your neurotic husband may have gone off the deep end and taken Lieutenant Waters with him? Is that it Beth?" Rob held her gaze, and then smiled.
Beth just stared at Rob with no reaction. She looked like she had forgotten to breathe. She finally took a deep breath and hauled off, hitting Rob hard in the chest with both hands, as if pushing him away. "How dare you make jokes?! This isnít funny!" Again she went to shove him with her hands.
Rob grabbed both hands and pulled her as close to him as possible. He let go of her hands and embraced her. He had to hold her tight while she struggled rather aggressively. He hoped she would just calm down. "Beth, Iím sorry. Iím really sorry. I know itís not funny. But everything is okay. Honestly. I went to see a doctor today at the Military base in Wurzburg. Thatís where I was. Everything is going to be okay. Really. Iím so sorry to have frightened you. I didnít mean too."
It took a long moment, but Beth finally stopped struggling and really looked at Rob. "Oh God Rob. After last night, when you walked out on me, I was so worried. Then today after you disappeared, all I could think of was what it would be like being a widow, and alone in Germany. And what it would be like for our son, not to have a father." She began to cry and fell into his arms, shaking.
Rob continued to embrace her until her tears stopped. "Oh God Beth. Iím so sorry. I knew I was putting too much pressure on you. But I think everythingís going to be okay now. Thereís no magical cure, but just even getting it off my chest today was a relief in some ways." Rob then kissed her and ended the embrace.
He backed away from her and leaned against one of the kitchen counters. Staring at the floor he admitted something he never expected to have to resort to, "the doctor gave me some medication, sleeping pills actually." Rob looked up to meet Bethís gaze. "So, at least for a while, I wonít be much help to you with Michael at night. They are supposed to stop the nightmares, so I can get some sleep. Letís hope it works. It of course, doesnít get rid of the reason for the nightmares. I have a number of follow-up appointments with the doctor, so we can discuss the nightmares and their effect on this family. He wants you to come whenever you can. Okay?" he asked quietly.
Beth just let out a big sigh of relief. "Of course Rob, Iíll be there. Always." Beth approached Rob and they embraced. "I love you," she said.
Rob kissed her quickly on the cheek and said, "I love you too. Weíll work this out, I promise."
They continued the embrace for a long moment until they heard Michael begin to cry. Beth turned and headed for the bedroom.
"You know what Beth, Iíll go get him. Okay?" Rob asked quietly.
Beth turned back to Rob and smiled, "Any time dad, any time at all."
As Rob went to get Michael, Beth pulled the letter from her pocket that she had written to Rodney Ballister. She had been so pre-occupied today; she had never even mailed it. She tore it up and threw it away. Thanks anyway Rodney. Hereís hoping we wonít need your help.
US Army Base, Wurzburg, Germany, Office of Colonel Kenneth Mitchell, Doctor of Psychiatry,
September 16, 1946, 0900 Hours
Ken Mitchell sat back in his chair after going over his shorthand notes from yesterdayís emergency consultation with his new patient, Major General Robert Hogan. It had been a long session that went late into the day and he hadnít gotten around to organizing his notes. Today he needed to put together his new patientís notes into an official record. The record would be sealed as all psychiatric records were out of routine practice. But this record would have to be classified as well.
When his secretary had told him yesterday that he would be seeing an emergency consultation, heíd been annoyed. He hadnít had time for an unscheduled visit. His schedule was full. So he had gone to protest to the base hospitalís commander, General Sydney Frank. But Doctor Frank had been ready for Kenís protests. Doctor Frank adamantly made a point of telling Ken that he was being ordered to see Major General Robert Hogan.
Ken now smiled wryly to himself in memory. His protests had died before he had even uttered them. As Iím sure Sydney knew they would. Robert Hogan a.k.a. Papa Bear. I was going to meet Papa Bear! What an honor and an unexpected opportunity. The only thing that Sydney could tell him was that General Hogan had called for the appointment, himself. The General had expressed concerns about some bad dreams, but that was all. And no one at the base was going to put him off.
"Just listen to him Ken," Sydney told him. "General Hogan just sounds like he wants to talk with someone. Youíre the best shrink in the place. But remember, whatever he tells you will be classified. Weíll have to get your security clearance upgraded. The brass doesnít want any specifics about Papa Bearís operation leaked. It needs to remain classified. Theyíve only declassified that the operation existed and who were the principles involved, but nothing else. Granted a lot of it has been made public by word of mouth, but the brass want to try and keep a lid on as much as possible."
Ken had returned to his office trying to rehearse what he would say to the bonafide war hero when he arrived. He had personal reasons for wanting to thank Robert Hogan. His younger brother Keith had been one of the thousands of airmen that Papa Bear had rescued and returned to England. After the war Keith had told him the tale of ĎPapa Bearí. It was unbelievable, but amazingly, it was true. Stalag 13 -- a POW Camp above -- was a virtual labyrinth of tunnels below. The prisoners there dedicated themselves to helping other servicemen return safely home. What it must have taken for them to remain behind as literally thousands of servicemen were processed home.
Ken sighed as he leafed back through his scribbled notes. Where to begin? He had so wanted to express his gratitude to Papa Bear, the genius, who created the operation that saved his brother and so many others. But Ken quickly realized that his heaping praise on Robert Hogan, the man, was not going to help his new patient.
I couldnít tell Robert Hogan my own personal story of thanks. Not after listening to his hauntingly painful confession of nightmares and feelings of overwhelming guilt. God. Even just getting him to talk to me took almost an hour. But when the dam finally broke, Hogan had talked for hours. I listened to him describe his nightmares. Even one would have been enough to send me immediately to a colleague for help. Hogan had dealt with three separate recurring nightmares, off and on, for close to a year, before finally admitting to himself that he needed help. Damn. I then had to listen to him describe the basis of those three nightmares and how they could have really happened. He admitted to me that two of the dreams were based on Ďrealí threats to he and his men. The third was based on a fear that could have easily become a Ďrealityí. Those Ďrealitiesí were horrible in and of themselves. The nightmares only embellished them into something truly horrendous.
During the session I realized that what I had originally assumed about Papa Bear and his organization was wrong. I had always assumed that the men involved in Papa Bearís operation would not have to deal with the Ďnormalí feelings expressed by others who had been POWs. His brother Keithís description of the operation had led him to believe that these men controlled the situation they found themselves in. I guess I assumed they were all planted there on orders given by Allied High Command.
How wrong could I have been?
Robert Hogan and his men were POWs. Shot down. Captured. Questioned. Starved. Shipped. And finally thrown into prison. After all that, they were still able to start operations without the aide of Allied High Command until after the operation took shape. So. On top of being a POW and dealing with the horror that was being a POW. Robert Hogan had to contend with running that incredible operation where he had thousands of people depending on his every decision, every minute of everyday for three long years. Itís a wonder the man was still sane!
Ken finished off organizing his notes and plans for treatment. Damn. Twelve pages after only one session. Ken closed the thin new record with a sigh. He knew before too long that shiny new folder would be bulging with too much paper. Because of the troubled psyche of a man with a conscience, who was thrust into a situation where he had no choice but to follow through. After all that he accomplished, Robert Hogan still harbors feelings of guilt, that what he did do, wasnít enough. He feels he should have done more. And yet he still feels acutely responsible for every life lost, on either side, because of his actions.
Before Robert Hogan came to me yesterday I envied him. Now I donít quite know how to relate to him. Robert Hogan is a war hero. He is undeniably responsible for saving the lives of literally thousands of Allied soldiers, German civilians, and German defectors. He is also undeniably responsible for the deaths of literally thousands of German civilians whose only crime had been to be working in the wrong place at the wrong time. Robert Hogan deserves every acclaim anyone wants to heap on him. But Robert Hogan canít see past the deaths of the innocent. He sees them only as his failure for not coming up with a better solution.
Well. This will not be easy. Robert Hogan has a long road ahead of him. I just hope I can help.
The first step in this process is to get as complete a medical history as I can on him. I gave him medication designed to calm him down and knock him out, so he could sleep. I have scheduled once a week appointments to begin with. Though if Hogan should suffer a nightmare -- even a mild one - I told him I wanted him to come for an immediate appointment. These appointments are to include the Generalís wife Beth whenever possible. I hope Beth will be able to help her husband at home between appointments. We will need to take this process one step at a time.
He pulled out a piece of letterhead and the address of the German doctor in Hammelburg that Hogan had listed as personal physician.
September 16, 1946
Yesterday your patient, General Robert Hogan, was seen at the base hosptal. Some routine medical tests were performed. Enclosed you should find a copy of those test results.
As a follow-up to his appointment I am writing to request that you send copies of any and all records you have kept on General Hogan to my office. I am especially concerned with the time he spent as a POW during the war. If you have any such records, they would be very helpful to me in assessing the Generalís condition.
You should note on your own records that I have prescribed Amitriptyline to the General. He has informed me that he is not on any other medications at this time. I would like your verification that that is indeed the case.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call and speak with me.
Kenneth Mitchell, M.D.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Home, September 21, 1946 1800 Hours
Doctor Oskar Freiling had finally sat down at his kitchen table after a long day. His small medical practice was no longer small. He had actually just hired two more doctors to help. Since word had gotten around that Oskar was the personal physician to the Military Governor, heís had more and more people come to him.
Oskar sat rifling through the dayís mail. He noticed a fairly official notice from the medical facility at the Military Base in Wurzburg. Oh goodness, I never sent Robís records. They must be doing some house cleaning. Oskar opened the letter and his heart almost stopped when he read that the doctors at the base were indeed looking for Robís records, but not just for house cleaning. The medical staff at the base had actually seen Rob last week. He never said anything to me. In addition to the request for his records, a report of Robís treatment was sent to him. Rob still had him listed as his personal physician.
The base physicians had some standard test performed, blood tests, weight, height etc. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except that the doctor from the base listed as Robís primary doctor, was not a physician, he was a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist also said that Rob had been put on a sedative, but there was really no explanation given as to why.
Oh God. -- Now donít go jumping to conclusions. - Damn. Had Rob lied to me and never had the bone fragments removed. - Or maybe they werenít successful in removing them. - Why wouldnít they just be planning surgery? - Unless itís too late. - And they are preparing for the worst. - Oh God. - Relax, talk to Rob tomorrow. - What can I do? Poor Beth. Poor Michael. - Rob. No, this canít be happening now. Things were starting to go so well. - I canít wait until tomorrow; Iím going over their house now. -- Damn it son, why didnít you confide in me?
Oskar barely acknowledged Ursula as he gave her an excuse of an emergency house call when he left the house. Oskar drove quickly over to the Governorís Mansion. He barely knocked and walked right though the door into the kitchen, calling out loudly for either Rob or Beth. It was then that he realized that barging in was a really stupid thing to do. He discovered that Rob and Beth were obviously Ďintimately involvedí on the sun porch. Oskar quickly turned away embarrassed and went outside into the courtyard.
Rob, with his heart pounding and his body reeling from the interruption, quickly dressed by throwing pants on. As he headed outside, he ran his hands through his hair hoping to look somewhat presentable. By the time he reached Oskar, Rob was more worried about some unknown emergency than the unexpected interruption to Beth and his lovemaking.
"Whatís the matter Oskar? Is there an emergency? What do you need me to do?" Rob asked very worried and breathless.
Oskar would not look at Rob. Shaking his head he said, "Oh God Rob. Iím so sorry. I should never have barged in. I never would have done that under normal circumstances. Please accept my apologies."
"Itís okay. I know you wouldnít. Are you going to tell me whatís wrong?" Rob asked, walking up and putting a hand on the older manís shoulder.
Beth just arrived outside. She had needed extra time to dress and compose herself before she could face Oskar. She was so very embarrassed. What was he doing here? Something must be wrong. "Whatís the matter? Rob? Oskar?" she asked, as she watched Rob try to comfort Oskar.
Oskar turned back and faced both young people. "Rob, Beth. Please forgive me. I donít know what to say. I came here in a panic. Ursula doesnít even know why I rushed out of the house, or even where I went. How can I say this? Rob, today I got a request for your medical records to be sent to the base hospital in Wurzburg. They sent me a report of your treatment from an appointment last week. All it said was that you had some basic tests completed, but that you were put on a sedative and were being seen by a psychiatrist. Beth you wonít understand this, but Rob all I could think of was the last time you were on sedatives under my care. I panicked that that condition had re-occurred. Iím hoping that that is not the case. Please tell me that is not the case?" Oskar pleaded, his eyes threatening to fill with tears, his body trembling.
Rob reached out and took Oskar into an embrace. "Damn, Oskar. Itís not the case. Really, thatís not it. Iím so sorry. I never thought the base would send you anything. It was stupid of me to think that that wouldnít happen." Rob pulled back from Oskar, though he kept his hands on his shoulders. "Iím not dying, Oskar. Okay? Turns out I have a completely new neurosis. One, I didnít want to bother you with," Rob said quietly. "I am not dying, okay?" He gave the Doc a small shake. "Did you hear me?"
Oskar sighed heavily, "Yes. I heard you. Whatís wrong then? Something you didnít want to bother me with, you said?"
"Well. Um. Iím not sure youíre going to understand. Basically, Iíve been having nightmares. Pretty bad ones, where I have severe physical reactions to them. They started right after my family left. I wouldnít have been all that worried about them. But what I never told you, before, was that for the first three months after my return to Germany, I had the same nightmares almost every night. Beth and I suffered through them together. When they started this time, they were much much worse. I was pretty much a basket case. Not sleeping. Not eating. Serious mood swings. I was afraid to even touch Michael. I was going to hell in a hand-basket. So, I went to a psychiatrist at the base. He gave me the sedatives, so I could sleep. Other than that, I have follow-up appointments to find the cause of the nightmares. Thatís all. Really. And the sedatives have worked so far," Rob said trying to be re-assuring.
"Why didnít you tell me!? Of anyone, I think I would understand your nightmares!" Oskar said frustrated.
"Actually Oskar, I assumed you had some of your own and you didnít need mine to deal with too," Rob said.
Oskar approached Rob and slapped him across the face. "How dare you decide what I can and can not handle? Three weeks ago, I told your parents that in my heart you are as much my son as theirs. A parent does not deserve to be a parent, if they cannot accept the pain of their children. In this, you are my son, not my patient. You will never close me out again, is that understood?" Oskar said angered.
Rob was so taken aback. He didnít respond right away. Rob glanced at Beth for support, but she looked just as taken aback. Rob turn to Oskar and sheepishly looked at the floor, "God damn it. My track record sucks with parents recently." He slowly glanced up at Oskar. "Iím sorry. I shouldnít have left you out of the loop. Itís just thatÖ" A thought struck. "Damn it, you are right Oskar. You know that? In this, I was your son, and not your patient. And you should have figured out by now, that I hide unpleasant things from my parents. And I do seem to remember someone saying that Ďthere are things that canít be toldí and that people should learn to trust my judgment."
"No you donít. You will not force that issue with me. That statement had nothing at all to do with the Ďlife and deathí of oneís child. It had everything to do with the fortunes of war," Oscar said frustrated. "You can be the most stubborn, frustrating, and impossible man."
"Yeah and look whoís talking?" Rob retorted. Great come back, huh? Worthy of a four-year-old.
Both men just stood staring at one another. Neither had any more arguments to make. Beth broke the silence. "SoÖ Rob? Oskar? Are you guys finished? Your arguments are going to get you nowhere. Plus I find it fascinating that the two of you argued and came to the same conclusion, that you both love each other as family. So itís time to knock off the stubborn indignant acts and apologize to one another."
Oskar was the first to answer. He stared Rob directly in the eyes. "I will not apologize for loving you like a son. I expect an apology, though, from a son who feels Iím not worthy of sharing his pain."
Okay. Back down Rob. This argument you canít win. Do you even want to for that matter? "Oskar, I apologize. I truly just didnít want to burden you with it. I had never expected that information to come back to you. Iím sorry it made you come to the conclusion that you did. Iím more sorry about that than you can ever know. But I promise to be more cognizant of your feelings in regards to my health. Okay? Truly everything is going well. The dreams stopped within a day of beginning the medication. I still need to work through the cause, but everything will be okay."
Oskar was still angry, but didnít have another rejoinder. "Fine," he said evenly. "I still do not apologize for worrying." Then he smiled sheepishly and said, "But I truly apologize for interrupting you and Beth this evening." Oskar put his arms around both Beth and Rob, "I would never forgive myself if I interfered with you both bringing another child into this world. You two should continue where you left off." He gave both young people a shove in the direction of the house.
Both Rob and Beth looked embarrassed. Rob said, a little stunned, "You know Oskar, that is one statement I never thought Iíd hear from a parent."
Oskar just laughed, "You two should know by now that parenthood is a precious gift, and never should be forsaken. But what you donít realize is that grandparenthood is an even more precious gift, and one that should be encouraged at every opportunity." Oscar smiled, put his hand on Robís shoulder, looked directly at Rob, and never broke eye contact with him. "Although, I admit that sometimes children can be a patience tester and occasionally a good throttling is necessary," Oskar said, giving Robís neck a small squeeze. "I will go now," he said, and made his way to his car.
Rob watched as Oskar got into his car and drove away. Damn, do parents get together and come up with a consensus? Or is it just me that makes Ďparentsí want to throttle me?
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, November 10, 1946, 1800 Hours
Tonight was the first night that Beth would be out of the house for the evening since Michael was born. Of course, for the first 3 months, Beth was breast-feeding and it was rather difficult to leave. Then with Robís nightmares, he hadnít wanted Beth to leave Michael alone with him. But Michael was almost completely weaned onto a bottle and Robís nightmares had subsided. Well at least they were being controlled by the medication. Rob felt comfortable enough for her to go out and enjoy herself. It was sort of a girlís night out. She, Ursula and Olga were attending a theatre production of Shakespeareís A Mid Summerís Nightís Dream. The boys were converging on the Hogan residence for a game of poker.
Itís kind of a relief that someone else was going to be here tonight, Rob thought. I wonít admit to Beth that Iím still a little worried. And not so much about the nightmares, as much as this really would be the first time Iíd be alone for an extended period of time with Michael. Yeah, I know. I tried to convince her I had experience with babies and all thatÖitís just that heís so small.
While waiting for his guests and with Michael settled, Rob took some time out to respond to the letter that Peter had written last week.
November 10, 1946
Sounds like things at the Palladium have been very successful so far. Congratulations, I couldnít be happier for you. I was going to say I couldnít have been more proud of you, but I donít think thatís my prerogative any more. (Even though, I am).
Beth and I (and Michael) had a wonderful time in London. It was good to see you and meet your mom, dad and sister. They were all great fun. But I wanted you to know that I really appreciate your connecting with my brother Joe. You both seem to have hit it off. That is if what his most recent letter to me said was true. Was it? Something about you, him and two women being drunk, naked and in the wading pool outside the Palladium? Drunk, I understand. Women, I understand. ButÖ My brother Joe, naked in a wading pool, in October? Are you corrupting my little brother, Peter?
So, did Chris Matthews accept your offer of a job? It was great to see him. What a surprise that was. I hope he takes you up on your offer. You two always worked well together.
The real purpose for this letter was to extend an invitation to you and your family to come to Germany to celebrate Thanksgiving with Beth and I. Joe was already planning to come. I realize, of course, that basically Joe and I would be the only ones with any claim to the Thanksgiving Holiday. But any excuse for a Holiday, right? We would love to have you and your family. This year will be the first time that we weíll be able to enjoy the holiday season. Last year, it wasnít even possible. The conditions in this country were not good at the time. They are, of course, not perfect now. But things are getting better.
Weíll be celebrating on Saturday, November 24th. I couldnít legitimately make Thursday the Holiday. If you can come, plan to stay the weekend (or longer). You and your family can stay at the house with us. If everyone comes weíll have a house full on that Saturday. Iíve invited close to 20 people for dinner. Hopefully you all can make it.
I had already asked Louis to come, but he and his sister are spending this time getting re-acquainted. Iím glad we were able to locate Michelle. Sheíd been living for the past year in an orphanage in Paris. Louisís father had died around the same time that we were liberated from Stalag 13. Anyway, Louis wants to spend time with her, but has promised that they will come for the Christmas holiday.
Joe already told me that youíve invited him to spend Christmas with your family. The big brother in me canít thank you enough for your kindness to him.
Oh yeah. Want to know something funny? Iíve taken up playing poker with Doc Freiling, Doc Schnitzer, Heinrich, Hermann and Wilhelm. Iím waiting for them all to show up and play tonight, as I write this. I had it good at first; none of them had ever played much. Now though, they have all mastered it enough to continually beat the pants off me. I really, really miss having you as my poker Ďpartnerí. Maybe we can play a round or two Ďtogetherí, with them of course, if you make it for Thanksgiving? (Vindictive of me, isnít it?) They should all be here that day.
Well I honestly hope you can make it sometime, even if it isnít for Thanksgiving.
PS. You know, that wading pool thing sounded like a lot of fun. I wish I could have been there. (Oh God, donít ever tell Beth that I said that!)
Rob went quickly to check on Michael. Everythingís fine, donít be neurotic. Then he decided to send his brother Joe a note, as well. He wanted Joe to know that he invited Peter and his family. But I wonder. Should I tell Joe that Wilhelm and his family have already agreed to come for Thanksgiving? I told Wilhelm that my brother would be here. I could tell Wilhelm was nervous about it, but he told me that he and his family would be there. Then he said, and I quote, "Even if it is just to figure out what all the fuss is about your Thanksgiving Holiday." Damn, the man has turned into such a wise-ass. I guess maybe, Iím a bad influence. You know what, I not going to mention it to Joe. Heís just going to have to deal with it.
November 10, 1946
Howís everything? Any more skinny-dipping in the Palladiumís wading pool? Everythingís fine here. I just wanted to touch base with you. I wanted to make sure you were still coming for Thanksgiving? It is going to be you and me for the American contingent at the house for Thanksgiving.
Iím planning on close to 20 people for dinner. Iíve even hired, ahem commandeered, a couple of cooks from the military base in Wurzburg to do all the work. I wanted everyone else to have time to relax. Olga and Ursula were angry when they first heard that. Honestly, even though both ladies are good cooks, I just donít think the turkey would come out the same. As it is, I made sure my commandeered cooks were American. (Sorry, still harboring a distaste for German cuisine).
I also wanted you to know that I invited Peter and his family. So will you touch base with them? I hope they can come. I just figured you might want to travel together.
See you soon
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, November 24, 1946, 1200 Hours
Rob Hogan was expecting most of his guests to arrive for Thanksgiving by 2 oíclock. His brother Joe and Peter Newkirk had arrived last night. Newkirkís family had not come with him. I wonder if his family was having the same problem as mine? I should ask him. Newkirk told me that Joe had asked him a lot of questions about Wilhelm Klink on their way here. Testing the waters, I guess. Newkirk said he just kept telling Joe to wait until he met him.
You know, itís really too bad that Hans wonít be here. But this time, he really has a legitimate excuse. Itís the Schatze Toy Companyís busy season. This year will be the first official Christmas Toy Drive since the war ended. Shultz is keeping his word and following in his Grandpa Guntherís footsteps. Like that should surprise me. A lot of people will be helping Shultz and his toy company on Christmas Eve. I was able to pull a small task force together that included the Military Governors from each of the 4 controlled zones. We really will be delivering toys to orphanages all over Germany. -- It will be great! -- That was a nice thing you started grandpa Gunther. You can be very proud of your great, great, great, great grandson.
So far everything was going really well. The food smelled wonderful. Iím really glad I had these two guys come, itís working out great. The liquor cabinet was full. Very Important. The only thing we wonít have is the traditional high school football game to watch. Too bad. Everything else, so far so good.
"Hey big brother. Would you like a beer?" Joe said heading in Robís direction from the main living room and the bar, attested to by the two bottles of beer he was carrying.
Rob turned just in time to catch the bottle his brother threw at him. "Thanks," Rob said eyeing his brother warily. Whoa, whatís this? Joe is still in his skivvies. And heís already had one too many.
Joe approached and opened Robís bottle with the opener he had been carrying, "Happy Thanksgiving." Joe clunked his bottle haphazardly against his brotherís. "Cheers," Joe said taking a swig.
"Cheers," Rob answered, trying to avoid the spillage from his brotherís bottle. He then also took a swig. "You started a little early today, huh?" Rob said noticing that his younger brother was somewhat inebriated. He wasnít too bad, but there was a definite alcoholic haze about him. "Why donít you just slow down, okay?"
"Why, you afraid your younger brother will embarrass you in front of your friends?" Joe said sarcastically.
"As a matter of a fact, yes. What gives Joe? You arenít normally like this. Is there a problem?" Rob asked rather pointedly.
"No problem. No problem at all. Just preparing myself to pay the proper homage to my big brother, Major General Robert Hogan," Joe said bowing, which caused even more beer spillage.
"What are you talking about?" Rob asked, confused.
"Tell me General sir," Joe said waving his beer in the air. "How many of the people at dinner today are going to tell me that they owe you their life? Huh? Every single one, right? Itís sickening, you know. I canít even have a conversation with Peter without it somehow coming up that my big brother was an infamous war hero," Joe said with a real sour attitude.
"Whoa Joe. Whereís this coming from? I never saw you like this before. Drunk, yes. Nasty no. Whatís wrong?" Rob asked.
Joe got right in his brotherís face. "You are whatís wrong! You try being stationed at Fieldstone; where everyday your work is compared to your big brotherís. I canít get away from it. The biggest reason for me going into intelligence, in the first place, was to get out from under your shadow. Even as kids, you were always the one people noticed. Now, my big brother the Ďpilotí turns out to be the man that ran the biggest intelligence operation in military history from inside a POW camp. I just canít win here." Joe turned and walked away from his brother.
Rob absent-mindedly put his beer down on the closet table and approached his brother saying, "Joe, I donít know what to say to you. I never realized you felt this way. Why didnít you tell me before this? Is there anything I can do?" Rob asked worried.
"Give it a rest Rob. I donít need your holier-than-thou attitude," Joe said evenly, taking the last swig from his beer and throwing the empty bottle in Robís general direction.
The bottle went sailing passed Rob and smashed to pieces against the wall behind him. Robís anger rose from down deep. "You are a bastard, Joe. Do you know that? So, I bet you enjoyed your time in the limelight then, with your older brother being held captive in a POW camp. How could I possibly out shine you from there huh? Or maybe you would prefer that I never came back? My death would have suited your plans to out shine your big brother. It could have been easily arranged you know. Death was a fairly common occurrence. It wouldnít have been hard to arrange at allÖ" Robís angry voice had to trailed off, as he ducked Joeís right cross. Joe had taken a big swing and he lost his balance. Rob grabbed him, but let his brotherís momentum drop him to the ground. Rob then sat on him and restrained his arms behind his back. He held on to his brother as tight as he could.
Joe struggled, but couldnít break Robís hold. "God damn it Rob, get off of me," Joe complained.
"No, you are going to answer my question. -- Would you have preferred that I never came back?" Rob asked again.
"Let go of me, you bastard!" Joe yelled, still struggling against his brother.
"Would you have preferred that I never came back?" Rob repeated evenly, as he tightened his grip.
"Get off me!" Joe yelled frustrated.
"First, answer my question. Would you have preferred that I never came back?" Rob demanded.
"Of course not! God damn it, how can you ask me that!? Youíre my brother for Christ sake!" Joe said rather deflated.
"Then tell me once again why we are having this argument," Rob demanded, the tension in his voice easing.
"Because, I just need to hate you every once in a while!" Joe bellowed, sarcastically.
"Oh. Is that all?" Rob asked, as he released his hold on his brother. He slapped his brother upside the head. "So warn me the next time thatís gonna happen." Rob stood up and helped his brother to his feet. "Truce?" Rob asked.
"Truce," answered Joe. "Iím sorry Rob."
"Yeah, well I guess we have stuff to talk about. Now go get cleaned up and drink some coffee. I donít need my guests tripping over my inebriated brother." Rob grabbed his brotherís shoulders, "We will talk. You can count on it. I canít have my little brother hating me all the time. Every once in a while -- maybe."
As Joe left the room, Peter came in from another entrance. "Rob," Peter said nodding quickly and trying not to make eye contact.
"Peter," Rob said also nodding. "So, how much of that did you see?"
"Most of it." Peter said apologizing, "Sorry."
"Donít be sorry. Has he been acting like that around you? Iíve never seen him like that. I mean. Well. Hell. Weíve always had the typical sibling rivalry. But damn, I never thought it went so far," Rob said sadly.
"You know Rob, Iíve havenít seen him like that either and weíve spent a lot of time together recently. Itís just this past week that heís been out of sorts. I know heís really nervous about meeting Wilhelm. Actually my whole family was. I really couldnít convince them to come."
"Yeah. My whole family has a problem with it too. I guess that may never change," Rob said distracted. "If youíll excuse me Peter. I think Iím going to bring my brother some coffee."
"Sure no problem," Newkirk said as he watched Rob leave. Peter then went to get something to clean up the broken beer bottle. He was sure Rob wouldnít want to leave any evidence of that altercation. Peter decided to take the blame for the mess. Just plain being clumsy, I guess.
Rob knocked on the door of his brotherís bedroom. "Can I come in?" he asked. He heard a muffled response and took it for Ďyesí. As he opened the door, Joe was just coming out of the bathroom that was attached to his bedroom. He had just showered and was now changing. "Hereís some coffee," Rob said as he walked over and handed it to his brother.
Joe barely looked at Rob. "Thanks," he said and took a sip. He started to turn away from Rob, but stopped suddenly. Looking back at his older brother Joe said, "Rob. Listen. I was so way out-of-line, that I donít even know if an apology would ever suffice. But, I am sorry. And God, Iím so proud that you are my brother. Really, I am. I would never have wanted anything to hurt you. Iím so sorry that I made you think that I would want you dead. That you think that hurts me, more than you could know," Joe said quietly and again started to turn away.
Joe then turned back quickly before Rob could respond. He smirked trying to break the mood. "Although, Iím still going to retain the right to hate you every once in a while. Your footsteps are hard to follow in, you know? But damn, what footsteps! Huh?" This time, the right cross landed, but Joe had only aimed at his brotherís shoulder.
Robís shoulder absorbed the impact and he stood there a little dumbfounded staring at his younger brother. "Apology accepted," Rob paused. "I think."
"Look Rob, Iíll be honest. Iím just really nervous about being here. I know Iíve met most of these people before. Itís just that this time, I feel out numbered. And the thought of hearing you guys sharing Ďwar storiesí with the man -- and his family -- who had a life and death hold on you for three years, just irks me. I have visions of myself jumping up from the table and strangling him," Joe said. "I guess, I just started to take those feelings out on you. Iím sorry, but I really donít know how to deal with the man."
"Look Joe. First of all, Ďwar storiesí are off limits. We donít discuss the war. There are too many uncomfortable memories there. Like I told you the last time you were here, weíve already dealt with those and weíve all moved on. We discuss only the present or what the future will bring," Rob said pointedly and then paused.
"But just so you understand," Rob continued. "Try looking at this from Wilhelm and Hanís position. My men and I whooped their butts, but good. Again it was necessary and I would do it again. But can you understand what it took for both men, coming from a place of authority over me, to learn that Iíd made a fool of them for over three years. -- And you still need to remember that if both men were true Naziís, my men and I would be dead. -- My operation only worked because of both menís inherent decency. Neither man ever had any intentions to harm any of us. And believe me, that was a hard balance for a POW Kommandant in Nazi Germany. Somehow, together we made it work. I never gave him a reason to shoot us, so he never had to make the decision to shoot us. Granted a strange balance of power, but it worked. -- And, I still got the better of both men. -- But yet, here they are over a year later, working hard with me, at rebuilding their country. -- Believe me, both men have swallowed way too much pride."
"But how can you call them friends?" Joe asked.
"Because Joe," Rob said. "After all that I did to them and their country. They both had the balls and the gumption to stand up and do what was right, regardless of how much their pride suffered. Those are the men that I call friends. They have done something that Iím not sure Iíd be able to do if the situation was reversed."
Joe was just shaking his head. "I donít know Rob, I just donít know."
Rob approached his brother and put his hands on his shoulders. "Can you please try to meet Wilhelm half way. Heís just as worried as your are. Hans isnít going to be here, so Iím sure Wilhelm feels just as nervous as you do."
"Okay. Okay. Iíll try," Joe agreed.
Just as they finished the conversation, Beth knocked on the door and called out, "Rob. Joe. Wilhelm and his family have arrived. Can you come?"
"Weíre on our way Beth," Rob answered. He then looked at Joe, indicating the door, and said, "So into the fray little brother?" Rob led his brother down stairs to meet his guests.
It wasnít until 3:30 in the morning that Joe got back to his bedroom. The day had gone much better than he ever expected. Rob, Peter, Doc Freiling and Wilhelm were still downstairs playing poker. Everyone else had gone home and Beth had gone to bed hours ago. I finally had to call it quits and head to bed. I need to be up and on the train for 12:00pm. So does Peter for that matter, but he didnít even look remotely tired. Probably because, between Rob and Peter, they were cleaning up. Granted, they werenít playing high stakes poker. But you wouldnít know that from the expressions on the four menís faces. If they keep going the way theyíre going, I wonít have much time to talk to Rob tomorrow. I really need to tell him that I can see what he sees in Wilhelm Klink. -- And damn. -- All that talk about delivering toys to orphanages all over Germany from Hans Shultzís toy company/orphanage. -- I get the picture Rob. - I canít leave here without trying to settle with Rob. Maybe Iíll just write my feelings down and leave them for him to read.
I wasnít sure how much time we were going to have today to talk before I had to leave. So, I thought I would just write you a note. I wanted to make sure I got everything I wanted to say off my chest.
First, I apologize again for that inane outburst yesterday morning. Please forgive your little brother, okay? I could never say this to your face, but in a letter I can get it out. I love ya, you big lug of a Major General. Really, I do. And I hate myself for feeling like I do sometimes. But nothing will ever take away how proud I am to be your little brother. You have done incredible things; I just hope that I can at least continue to bask in your limelight. I may not always like it, but I couldnít live with the alternative. Okay, is that enough gushing?
I also needed to tell you that I got to see what you saw in Wilhelm Klink. I now understand your perspective. After all you tried to tell me, I still had been picturing him as an overzealous member of the German military. I saw him as someone that you were able to subjugate, whether through blackmail or threat of death or whatever. I really didnít want to know which. Well anyway, you know that saying about Ďmeeting the face of the enemy?í Well, yesterday I did. And there it wasÖ the face of a decent human being, who had been caught between a rock and a hard place. It blew me away.
As for your Hans ShultzÖ Damn, the man sounds like Santa Claus for Christ sake. Was that a little overkill for my benefit? Probably not, huh? All that talk of toys drives and orphanages. Geesh. I get the picture. Iím sorry now that I didnít get to meet that Ďface of the enemyí. But I think now that I would never have seen the Ďenemyí. Am I right?
Yesterday was a wonderful Thanksgiving. Truly. It was a very interesting exercise trying to explain Thanksgiving to a room full of people who have no clue. You know, that whole Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, and Indians explanation really went nowhere. As for the high school football games, nobody understood the connection. They all seemed to get the Ďthankfulí part, which was good.
And, telling them about that Thanksgiving we spent in New York City to see the Macyís Thanksgiving Day Parade was great because I got to tease my big brother a little. I can remember that day like it was yesterday, Mom and Dad asking you to watch John and Sue while they took me to the hospital after I broke my ankle. The two of them so wanted to see the parade. And youÖ You were so confident about being able to watch them by yourself. But then you lost John in New York City during the Macyís Thanksgiving Day Parade! Thank God he wasnít that far away and that policeman found him. It probably would have been a lot better had the policeman found him before mom, dad and I returned from the hospital. Huh? What do you think? I do seem to remember you getting quite the ass whooping. Bet it still smarts sometimes! That was certainly one time I was glad you were the older brother!
You know the look on your face after I finished the story, and on Bethís face for that matter, was priceless. I got the impression you never told her that story. Oh no. Sorry dad. I bet that was another one of those things where your little brother should have kept his trap shut. Huh? Just donít take Michael to New York City for the Macyís parade and you should be okay.
Well Rob, I canít see you on Christmas. I donít know when I can get away again. So keep writing or plan to come back to London when you can.
Your little brother,
London, England, Fieldstone Army Base,
Office of Colonel Joe Hogan, December 2, 1946, 1200 Hours
Joe sighed in relief when his clerk left the office for lunch. A blessed hour alone. Things had been overwhelmingly busy since his return from Germany, where he had spent Thanksgiving with Rob. Things were really heating up with the Russians. Rob had told him that it would, but somehow he hadnít wanted to believe it. Another War so soon after the last one was not what the World needed. Well perhaps it wouldnít come to that.
He sighed again looking at the urgent reports on his desk for his attention. Well it was lunchtime. They could wait.
December 2, 1946
Mom and Dad;
Another year is winding down. Things here in London have been busy, but I was able to get away recently to spend ĎThanksgivingí with Rob. Well truthfully, we were the only ones with a legitimate claim to the Holiday, but the rest of his guests got in the spirit of the thing easily. I traveled to Robís with Peter Newkirk. You will all love him when you meet him. Peter is truly a one of a kind. Heís a nefarious thief Iím sure, who would give you the shirt off his back. Well, heíd probably give you his and then steel another one for himself! Honestly, Peter Newkirk is a great guy, who just happens to have some Ďdifferentí talents. He runs the Palladium Theatre here in London. Such a grand place. Heís done a splendid job refurbishing.
Peter and his family were invited to Robís as well. But Peter couldnít convince his parents and sister to go. They have horrible memories about what the Germans did to London. They also have similar feelings about the whole Wilhelm Klink and Hans Shultz thing that you all do. I knew that Wilhelm Klink was going to be there and I admit to having been a nervous wreck about meeting him. I bugged Peter about 'Wilhelm', during the whole trip to Germany. But he wouldnít tell me a thing.
But then I met Willhelm Klink. Whatever you have pictured Willhelm Klink to be, forget it. Heís not. Willhelm Klink turned out to be the guy that you would pass by in the Library. The guy that clerked in the basement of the Company. The guy no one would ever look twice at. The guy who did his job, and life went on around him. But heís not that either. Heís difficult to explain.
But he definitely wasnít ĎThe Enemy.í Willhelm is a man in his 50ís, who was a career military officer. Not distinguished in any way. I can definitely see why Rob described him as being caught between a rock and a hard place. But he doesnít talk about the War either. No one in Hammelburg discusses it with any ease. Heís incredibly competent at what he is doing now. And Ďnowí in Germany is what seems to count. No one dwells on the past. It's dead and they want it to stay that way. Heís been a terrific Ďuncleí to Michael. Beth seems to have accepted him as well. She makes no bones about knowing who he was, but she obviously adores him.
I tried my best; but I couldnít hate him. In fact, as the day went on I would have to tell you that I admired him, in a strange sort of way. I just canít picture him as Robís jailer, even though I know he was. Rob doesnít see him that way. And I donít think, except for at the very beginning, did Rob ever see the man that way.
Well thatís really all I wanted to say. I met Willhelm Klink. I like him. I really wish I could have met Hans Shultz. He sounded like the kind of guy that 'everyoneí would love. I canít imagine Hans Shultz with an enemy in the world after the picture that every one of Robís guests painted of the man. I canít wait to meet him in September, and if heís not there, I plan on making Rob tell me where I can find him. I need to put a face to that picture.
On a different note, you know that I cannot make it home for Christmas again this year. I just canít be gone from here that long. Iíll be celebrating with Peter and his family. So I imagine the next time we will all meet again will be in September. I hope Suzy and John are doing fine, and that everyone else there is well. Write soon,
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan,
Parents of Major General Robert Hogan, December 12, 1946, 1200 Hours
Mary placed the opened letter from Joe next to Michaelís chair. Heíd be home shortly for lunch and would be glad to hear from our middle son. It had been sometime since Joeís last letter. After reading his description of Wilhelm I am getting more curious to meet both him and Hans. Hansís letters to me have been wonderfully written. He seems to have such an inner joy of life. Imagine, unselfishly caring for so many children! Michael has certainly been enjoying his letters from Wilhelm. The man has extensive musical knowledge, and his letters to Michael have re-introduced Michael to the world of classical music. Something Michael had not taken time to enjoy for a number of years.
"Good afternoon Mary," Michael greeting her as he came into the kitchen. "Howís your day been so far?"
"Joe wrote, his letter is on the table," Mary replied. "Oh yes, Edna was over for coffee earlier. It seems that Father Cohan is retiring at the end of the year. The new pastor will be Father Rittenhouse from St. Catherineís."
Michael sat at the table and picked up Joeís letter. "Are they planning anything for him?" he asked distracted as he began to read his sonís letter.
"Edna said sheíd let us know," Mary replied, knowing that Michael was no longer listening. He was instantly involved in reading Joeís letter. Mary wasnít surprised when upon finishing John's letter, Michael immediately put pen to paper to respond to Joe.
December 12, 1946
Your letter arrived, and weíre sorry to hear that you canít make it home again this year for the Christmas Holiday. But we do understand.
I am glad that you got to meet Willhelm Klink. Your mother and I have been corresponding with him and Hans for a few months now. I donít believe Rob is aware of that, and please donít you tell him. We hope to work through a solution without him involved. I have to admit that the first letter from them came as quite a shock, but after thinking about it Ö well I donít think if our roles had been reversed that I would have been able to write that first letter. Robís right, he seems to be quite a man. Iím glad that Robís opinion is enforced by your own. We also want to meet them when we go to the dedication in September.
John is still in school full-time. He graduates soon. Heíll be an aviation engineer. Sounds exciting, even if John is still upset that he can no longer fly. Your mother and I are just grateful that he is still here and capable of pursuing another career and direction with his life. As you know, for a while there, it looked liked John was going to be permanently disabled. Thank God that didnít turn out to be the case.
Your sister is fine. In fact, I believe that in May you will be an Uncle again. I told Sue yesterday that I thought she was carrying twins. She almost fainted in the hallway! She didnít want me to mention my theory to Ed. She wanted to be the one to break the news to him. I know that she has an appointment with her own doctor next Tuesday. Iím sure that heíll confirm my suspicions! I know I should have let Sue tell you, but I just couldnít help it. Proud Grandpa canít stop bragging about his grandkids!
I do hope that you and Rob can both make it home for your new niece(s) / Nephew(s) Christenings. But if not, we will all be gathering again in Hammelburg in September. So strange how the World is that we are more often all together as family on the soil of a former Enemy. But I wouldnít trade it for the World. All of my children are alive and happy. What more could a father ask for than that?
Your mother and I will see you in September, or before! Please have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Bullfrog, North Dakota, The Carter Home, December 16, 1946, 1100 Hours
Andrew returned home from school with a broad smile on his face. He had finally asked Ruth Woodward to marry him. He had met her at school. With his course schedule he didnít have a lot of time to socialize with the other students, but he had gone to several of the dances put on by some of the frat houses. He had met Ruth at the first party heíd gone to. He saw her regularly after that.
They had agreed upon a date in June, right after classes let out for the year. Heíd be graduating, and Ruth still had a year to go. Ruth was studying to be a teacher as well. The wedding was going to be in Hartford, Connecticut, Ruthís hometown. He had not wanted to wait so long, but she was adamant that they couldnít get a wedding together in any time less than that.
The only good thing about the delay was that there would be plenty of time for the rest of the guys to plan on coming. I hope they will all be able to make it. The only problem is - I want one of them to be my best man -- who should I ask? They all mean something different to me. Rob - I have a great deal of respect and admiration for him. Louis - He was great to have around in a pinch. Ivan - He was a steadfast friend under all circumstances, and Peter - You could always count on for a laugh. Who should I ask?
December 16, 1946
Rob, Peter, Ivan and Louis
You wonít believe this but I am getting married! I met Ruth Woodward at a party at school, just after I came back from Michaelís christening. She is a wonderful girl, and Iím still in awe that she said Ďyesí! Imagine someone wanting to marry me?
Well, the wedding will be in Hartford, CT on June 26, 1947 assuming that all of the plans come together properly. I hope this is enough time to get you all in Connecticut for June 26. I have a problem though. I want one of you to be my best man. You are all my best friends. Each of you deserves to be the one that I ask. But I donít know whom to ask.
Peter. You were the first one to speak to me when I landed at Stalag 13. You and I have done a thousand missions together since then. Youíve watched my back so many times, showed me the right way, and taught me to play cards. So in a lot of ways I should be asking you to do be my best man. OnlyÖ
Ivan. You were the one who kept us all going in the same direction. You were always the one who could interpret what the Colonel wanted. You always supported me, through everything. When I blew up tunnel number 3, when I accidentally put nitroglycerin in the bottle of furniture polish and left it in the radio room, even when I tripped and almost got you shot that time when we blew up the railroad bridge. You were always the one who stood up for me. You taught me German, and then how to develop my confidence so I could be whatever character the Colonel needed in his latest scheme. I donít believe I ever would have had the nerve to do that without you there coaching me.
Did I tell you that Iíve been cast in the lead role of the school production of Cyrano de Bergerac? The drama coach, Rich Jones, was in the common room where Ruth and some of her friends had encouraged me to do my ĎHitlerí imitation. I tried to tell Rich that I didnít do very well with set scripts but the guy was adamant that I was a born actor. I didnít have the heart to really tell him no. So now I have to learn my lines, which was never one of my more successful assignments. Iím sure the production is going to be a dismal failure.
But Iím off topic here, sorry.
Louis. Where would I be now without you? You kept everyone fed, entertained and clothed with neat patches on all of our things. You taught me so many things over the years, how to cook, dance and all that funny stuff with girls. I doubt I would have asked Ruth to dance that first night without your voice in my mind urging me on! Thanks pal! So perhaps out of all of you, I owe my engagement to Louis.
But that leaves Rob. You were always the one who encouraged me. You kept me thinking I could do whatever it was that I was doing. I doubt very much if I could have accomplished everything that Iíve done without you pushing me. So to you I owe where I am presently, with the confidence that I could do whatever Iíd set out to do. For a guy like me, that confidence is a precious gift.
So for all of those reasons and so many more, Iím cannot just choose one of you. But I would like to choose someone who can represent all of you. I know this may sound strange, but Iím going to ask Ďthe Colonelí to stand in for all of you, and to be my best man. The Colonel a.k.a. Papa Bear, the man who it was that started that insane underground operation. If it wasnít for him, I know in my heart that none of us would have survived. Not as POWs, anyway. So if it werenít for Ďthe Colonelí, none of you would be here today, so that I could ask you to my wedding. We all would have been lost without his leadership and his commitment to duty.
So ĎColonelí, would you please be my best man?
There, I said it. Please guys, I couldnít choose. I really couldnít choose between you. So I did the next best thing. I chose Ďthe Colonelí. Would the rest of you do me the honor of being ushers?
Let me know when you are all coming, and I will have Ruthís parents make arrangements at a local hotel. Rob, I will assume that you will want to combine this trip for my wedding with a visit with your family in Bridgeport.
Louis I canít wait to meet Michelle. I am so glad that you and her were able to get back together and be a family again.
Please write soon.
Heidelberg, Germany, Schatze Toy Company, Office of President Hans Shultz,
December 25, 1946 2200 Hours
What a week! Hans Shultz thought as he sat his weary body down and propped his feet up on top of his desk. He leaned back in his chair and sighed, closing his eyes. He just wanted to catch a couple minutes rest, but he couldn't relax.
The first post war Schatze Toy Company Christmas Toy Drive was a complete success. I would not have been able to pull it off without the support of Rob Hogan and the other Military Governor's. Rob was instrumental in garnering support for the toy drive, so much so that 20 trucks showed up this week to help distribute the toys to the orphanages throughout Germany. Five from each of the 4 controlled zones. Rob and his staff, Wilhelm, Beth and Michael came on the 20th and helped coordinate the effort. I had supplied Rob with the locations for all the orphanages. Then Rob and I worked out the deployment of trucks so that all the toys would be delivered on Christmas Eve. Rob and everyone else stayed until late on the 23rd when the last truck pulled out. They all needed to be back in Hammelburg for Christmas Eve, as they were all heading to a few of the orphanages in that area to hand out toys personally. Hans knew that Rob had lined up quite a number of volunteers, in Hammelburg, to aid in the distribution of toys. He even had Louis LeBeau and his younger sister lined up as helpers as well. They were scheduled to arrive early on Christmas Eve, visiting Rob and Beth for the Christmas Holiday.
Hans Shultz had received word from all those involved with the deliveries by late Christmas Eve. They had indeed completed the Toy Drive unhindered. Almost everyone told him wonderful stories about the joy written on the faces of the children, who were waiting, all knowing that even if Santa didnít deliver these toys, they were brought to them through the love and kindness of one man, Hans Shultz. It had been quite a joyous time for Hans and the members of his staff. Hans had thrown a huge party for everyone last night. On each and every one of the phone calls received from the drivers, a rousing cheer was heard, as his staff celebrated all the hard work that went into bringing back the tradition started by Gunther Shultz many many years ago. A tradition that had made the Schatze Toy Company loved by all.
Hans sat up at his desk. Looking down, he saw the local morning newspaper. He hadnít had time all day to check to see if the ad he placed, thanking everyone, had even made it to the newspaper. He had actually placed ads in the four largest newspapers, covering the 4 controlled zones. He wanted the entire country to know of the support given to the children of Germany. Itís still very sad that Germany cannot be as a whole anymore. No one really knows what the future will bring. Letís hope that even the smallest kindness will eventually lead to a brighter future for our children.
Just then Hansís wife Gerta entered the office, "Hans. Here you are. Iíve been looking all over for you. Are you hiding?"
"Just taking a break Gerta," Hans replied. "Itís been such a busy week. And today, with all the Christmas celebrations, between the orphanage and our own children, Iím just tired. Donít get me wrong; today was such a wonderful day. But I just needed a few minutes to myself. I had wanted to write to Rob Hogan, before too much time passed, to thank him for all that heís done for us."
"You write your letter then. I had just wanted to check on you. I know how busy itís been. Tell Rob and Beth thank you from me as well. When youíre finished, come over to the house. Iíve lit a fire in the living room. We can have a nightcap before turning in. The children are already asleep," Gerta said smiling as she kissed her husband on the forehead and left the office.
December 25, 1946
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Was Santa good to Michael? With all the activity of the past week, we never really had quiet time to talk. Gerta and Beth seemed to have a great time together decorating and coordinating the Christmas celebrations for our Ďowní children here, all 200 plus. Not to mention for my own brood of five. (or six, if you count the fact that Gerta wants to steal Michael)
Thank you so very much for all that youíve done, Rob. We would never have been able to coordinate such a big effort without your help. The political entanglements alone would have crushed our dream. But, it is fortunate for me that I have a friend in such a respectable position. It is also fortunate that that friend does not take Ďnoí for an answer. I know how much it took for you to push this effort through all the red tape. There are not enough words for me to express my gratitude to you. So please, at the very least, accept my sincere and heartfelt thank you.
Itís still difficult to live in a Germany divided. I realize that this will be the way of life for a long time to come. All I can say is that through your efforts, Germany is just a little less divided today. The feeling will not last, of course, with the political climate such as it is. But just maybe, at the very least, the children will remember the kindness shown this holiday season. It is my sincere hope that those memories will eventually lead to a brighter future for our children and our childrenís children.
Your friend always,
Bridgeport, CT, Home of Sue ĎHoganí Edwards, December 30, 1946, 8 pm local time
Sue sighed as she put her feet up on the couch. Today had been another long day. This second pregnancy was hard work! She was tired all of the time, but she was very happy to be having another child. The Christmas Holiday had passed very pleasantly, though unfortunately neither Joe nor Rob had been able to make it home again this year.
At least the war was over and the added stress of Rob being held in Germany was gone. Those three and a half years he spent as a prisoner were horrible. No one knew how he truly was. It had taken almost six months for us to find out that Rob was indeed alive. After that letters from him came sporadically. Sometimes two or three letters at a time, then sometimes there were months in between letters. His letters were always about how not much ever happened in the prison camp, and how angry he was about sitting out the war.
Even now thinking back on all that Rob and his men accomplished during that time, Sue was still amazed. Originally she had wanted to know everything about what he had done there. But then she thought about it more carefully. She decided that she didnít need to know anything more than that Rob had come home alive. That to Sue was more important than anything else.
She smiled as she noticed the letter on the table beside her. Rob had written saying he was coming home for a visit in June.
December 30, 1946
I received your last letter and am overjoyed that you will be home for a visit in June. Andrew seemed like such a wonderful man, I am very happy for him.
Of course your friends, Peter, Louis and his sister Michelle can stay with us. If Peter is anything at all like Ivan, Louis or Andrew, I donít see how I wonít enjoy his company. Please tell Louis though, that the price for staying with us is at least one meal. Tell him my mouth is already watering! Yum!
Also, I have some good news. Iím pregnant again, and the baby is due in May. So you should be able to meet your new niece/nephew when you arrive. Stephen is so excited to be a big brother. Oh, I shouldnít tell you this first, when I havenít even told this to Ed yet. So no telling Ed, okay? Dad thinks Iím carrying twins! Iím already huge and Iím only four months along. Ed was such a wreck during the first pregnancy. I donít want to see him when he finds out about the twins! Dad and John have been teasing me about Ďbeing as big as a house.í Ed hasnít picked up on it or heís in denial!
Speaking of that, when are you going to give Stephen another cousin?
Oh yeah. This is probably not my place, but did you know that John misses you? Since his injury, he and I have spent a lot of time together. He always talks about you and how he would love to kibitz with you about flying. He really does miss flying. But there is no way any airline will hire him as a pilot with his medical record. But, heís coping with that. He really does love school. He will be an aviation design engineer when he graduates. He should be finished next May. More than likely heíll have to move out of state for the best employment.
Mom and Dad are going to have a hard time with him leaving. Intuitively they understand John will need to move on eventually. Itís just that they spent all that time helping John recover. Although, helping John did give them a focus, something to concentrate on, because it was just about the same time that your letters stopped coming. Not knowing your status was hard for all of us to handle, especially when we never heard anything from you during all those long eight months.
But the last three months were even worseÖ They were Hell actually. Mom and dad didnít even have John to focus on, because by that time he was up and around. Then when the stories of the horrors found in camps began inundating the news reports and no one had heard from you, mom and dad, to put it kindly, didnít do well. Thing just werenít suppose to happen to the Ďfirst borní or your big brother, for that matter. You were always there for us, and we could do nothing for you. The not knowing was excruciating.
Before then, during all of those three years, as long as we continued to get your letters, we took you at your word that ĎNothing much happens here.í (What a cock and bull story that was Huh?) We had known we couldnít do anything at all to help you. We just kept you in our prayers always. But when those reports started being released. It was just horrible. We couldnít even get any word on your status even though official channels.
Then when Joe was sent to London and found out your were alive. God, what a relief. But boy we certainly werenít expecting what happened next!
Wow Iím sorry. I really didnít mean to bring all of that up again. Its over with, and Iím glad. I will see you in June.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, January 6, 1947, 2230 Hours
Rob turned on the light in the library as he entered the room. It was late, he and Beth had just returned home from an evening at the Freilings. Beth was putting Michael to bed and he wanted to quickly dash off a note to Andrew.
January 6, 1947
What wonderful news your last letter brought. I am very happy for you. I am sure that Ruth is a wonderful woman and she is very lucky to have you.
As to your request, well all I can say is that Ďthe Colonelí is very flattered and will very definitely be there to be your best man. I am assuming as you chose my military persona that you want me to be in uniform? If you would prefer a tux I can arrange that as well. Let me know.
Beth, Michael and I are planning to arrive in Bridgeport on June 20. We will be staying with my parents, along with Ivan. Louis and Michelle will be traveling with us and I believe will be able to stay with my sister Sueís family. Peter will hopefully also be staying with Sue. The only question Iíve received from Sue was if Louis would cook just once while he stayed with them. I think she still has a very pleasant memory of Louisí culinary wizardry from Michaelís christening. I can still see Louis blushing bright red as Sue heaped praises upon him.
Michael is doing very well. Heís growing so quickly now. Heís (walking, crawling, toddling?) and is into everything. If it isnít nailed down, itís in his mouth. Hans sends him presents at least once a month. The kid has more toys than he knows what to do with!
Iím so looking forward to meeting your parents at the wedding.
Again, congratulations! And good luck during your final semester. Iím expecting to see you graduated when I arrive in June. Any high school is going to be lucky to get someone with your enthusiasm for your work. Just do me a favor. Try to leave it standing when youíre through. Blowing up the chemistry lab in the first year is not a good way to make an impression!
Let me know of any change in plans.
ĎThe Colonelí (Rob)
Paris, France, Robuchon Restaurant, January 7, 1947, 2200 Hours
Louis LeBeau sighed deeply as he sat down for the first time that night. He had opened Robuchon three months ago, and since that time his business had quadrupled. It was now impossible for a patron to come in off the street and get a table from Thursday through Sunday nights. Reservation only on those nights. He employed a staff of 37 people and was thinking about adding five more. The place was just so busy, and for the level of service he demanded of his staff they needed more people. He also was looking at adding on. The space he had purchased was now too small to hold him. If he bought the building on the corner and combined the two, he might possibly have a large enough restaurant to hold the business that he had. Some wait was a good thing, but too long of a wait the patrons would go elsewhere.
Also with the additional building he could have an apartment constructed on the top floor. He and Michelle could live there, making it easier for him to be nearby if she should need him while he worked. As it was she spent every evening alone, or she was here in the restaurant. Thinking of Michelle brought back the happy memory of receiving word of her whereabouts from Rob. He had gone immediately to the small home where she was staying. The home wasnít an orphanage, but merely an elderly woman who had taken in children who had nowhere to go. He hadnít known the place existed, so when he had searched the orphanages in his first year home he hadnít looked there. So he had missed Michelle.
Hans Shultz had given Rob a listing of orphanages or shelters in France. It was a subject that the former guard was an expert on, having coordinated the whole of southern Germany. Hans even had contacts in the other provinces of Germany and France. The war had left so many children without homes. And Rob had someone quietly search each and every one of them for his sister. Then Rob had come in person with the news of Michelleís location and together the two of them had gone to get her. Michelle had recognized him, he wasnít sure she would. There were 13 years between them; she had been 5 when he had been drafted.
So now he had a family, as well as an extended family. Louis and Michelle had spent the Christmas Holiday with Rob and Beth in Germany. They had gone there on Christmas Eve to help participate in the Schatze Toy Companyís Christmas Eve Toy Drive. Everyone that could was there to help. What fun everyone had, seeing the joy on the faces of children was a nice memory.
He put his feet up on the chair next to him, as the wait staff busied themselves with putting the dinning rooms back to order for the next dayís business. He pulled two letters from his pocket. He read them over quickly then he began to write his answers.
January 7, 1947
I am overjoyed for you! Of course I will be there for your wedding. Rob and I have already discussed it and we will be traveling together. Michelle and I, along with Peter will hopefully be staying with Robís sister Sueís family. I believe that Rob will be writing to you to tell you that he, Beth, Michael and Ivan will be staying at his parents.
So that you know, I have no hard feelings over your choice of best man. I think, for once, you have made an intelligent decision. Asking Ďthe Colonelí was a wise move. And none of us will resent that choice. Because you are right, none of us would have made it home without Ďthe Colonelí.
I would like to offer my services as Chef for the rehearsal dinner before the wedding. Please accept this as a wedding present to you and your bride. In this way everyone can all meet as friends over a meal. Just the way to begin any relationship. This will have to be the evening of the 25th after the rehearsal. As I already know from Peter, that he and Rob are planning the stag party for you on the 24th.
As you know Rob located Michelle for me. Even after all this time, the man is still pulling miracles from under his cap! I donít believe I will ever be able to thank him enough. Michelle doesnít have to grow up without any family. We have each other now.
I understand why you were unable to make my grand opening as you were in school. Just so you know ĎRobuchoní is quite a success for me. I am already planning on expanding. Rob and Peter both told me I didnít have a large enough place. I answered I thought I had too much space. But they were right! I am so busy that I turn patrons away. Shameful. I have placed signs that ĎRobuchoní will be expanding shortly and to please be patient. The restaurant has received four stars from the two Paris newspapers, and it has been written up in sixteen magazines.
Just today I have received notice that ĎRobuchoní will be listed in a new American publication on things to see and do when visiting Paris. Fodors Travel Guides. I have seen a copy of their first edition. Very informative. Iím honored that they believe my restaurant is worthy of note to someone visiting my city.
In any case, Congratulations Andrew. I canít wait to kiss the bride! See you in June.
Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Office of Major Ivan Kinchloe, January 15, 1947, 1400 Hours
Ivan just returned to Fort Devens and had gone directly to his office. He just got back from another weekend in Connecticut with Robís family. He couldnít believe it, since last September when Robís parents, Michael and Mary, had returned home from Germany, he had been invited a number of times.
Iíve spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas with the Hogan family. And on both occasions the Hoganís have invited my dad to come in from Detroit. It has been really nice. I was so nervous about that first visit. I expected to feel like an intruder, but instantly I was welcomed. No one even flinched about my race. It was such a non-issue. Now I know, why Rob was so easy to work with. His family has become special to me.
Itís been an interesting perspective; too see how Robís family perceives him. They are still not happy that Rob lied to them about the whole Papa Bear thing. But what I find interesting is that they have corresponded regularly with Wilhelm and Hans since the Christening. Weíve talked and at first they couldn't or wouldn't understand. But for Rob's sake they have tried to meet Wilhelm and Hans on some middle ground. They don't want me to say anything, as the situation is still tentative in that regard. But one thing for sure is that his family loves Rob dearly. And that will never change, even if they donít agree with him.
Ivan decided to write to Rob, because he hadnít really touched base with him since before Thanksgiving.
January 15, 1947
Happy New Year. Iím sorry I havenít written. But you can blame your mother and father for that. Iíve spent so much time in Connecticut since I wrote you last; I havenít had much extra time.
Your family has been great to me. Theyíve been treating me like family. I donít know if they have told you, but Iíve spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with your family. My dad has also been welcome in your familyís home, for both holidays. I canít tell you how much that has meant to me.
Your brother John and I are getting along really well. Itís weird, I donít know your brother Joe well, but John is just like you. Itís funny. Both of us have taken to playing chess when I visit. Did you play with him much? Heís just as sneaky as you and hates to lose. It kind of freaks me out. Very close to a carbon copy of you in some ways. But yet still very different.
Wow, weíve had so much good news, Louis finding his sister and opening his restaurant, Peter becoming successful as the owner of the London Palladium and Andrew getting married. Oh yeah. Congratulations Best Man. Poor Andrew. Having to make that decision was tough for him. Just so you know, he made the right decision. We all feel the same way, as Andrew, about Ďthe Colonel.í
You know whatís going to be funny. If I know Andrew, heís been telling everyone that Ďthe Colonelí will be my best man. I bet heíll forget to mention to his in-laws that Ďthe Colonelí is now a Major General. Can you see it? I can. Donít be surprised if half the people at the wedding address you as Colonel. If I know you, and I do, I have a feeling that wonít be a problem. Huh Colonel? I hope everyone is going to be able to make it for the wedding. I wonít get to Europe before September for the dedication. I would really like to see everyone.
Well things here at Devens are the same. Iím still teaching. I do really enjoy it. And everyoneís been very accepting of me. But honestly, Iíve been feeling so much more at home here since your family Ďadoptedí me. Itís like having an extended family. Because as you know, itís only my dad and me. But I now know what itís like to have a big family. Itís been great.
I canít wait to see everyone. Please continue to write and I promise to do better, but I tend to have no energy when I return from Connecticut. Your mother stuffs enough food into me. Ugh.
Talk to you soon, your friend
Hammelburg, Germany, Home of Willhelm Klink, February 23, 1946, 1900 Hours
Willhelm entered the house through the kitchen door, shivering from the winter cold outside. Rob paid his people well, but gasoline was too expensive to waste on driving to and from work. So he generally walked to the office. Besides, he got some exercise that way. The time spent walking was also enough to give him peace of mind, allowing him to leave the pressures of the office behind. Iím still amazed sometimes of where I am today. Four years ago I thought Germany might win the war, and that was a scary thought. Three years ago, I knew Germany would not win, and that was an even scarier thought. Two years ago, Germany had lost, and whether through divine intervention, plain dumb luck or the stubbornness of one American Colonel, I found myself responsible for managing the finances of the American Region of Germany. And that was the scariest thought of all. What was truly amazing was that I am actually capable of doing that job!
"Willhelm, is that you?" His motherís voice called from the sitting room.
"Yes, Maman," Willhelm replied entering the cozy room where his mother spent the majority of her time. "Iím home. Has your day been good?"
"Yes. Fine. The post brought a package for you from the United States," she told him handing him the package from the table beside her. "Itís from Michael Hogan. Are you ever going to tell Rob that you and his father have been corresponding regularly?"
"No. I donít think so. I know that Michael hasnít told Rob. I will not break Michaelís confidence and tentative trust in me," Willhelm replied taking the package wondering if Michael had been able to find the music he had told him about.
January 17, 1947
Happy New Year to you, your mother and brother. I hope that things are well there.
As per the suggestion in your last letter, I have purchased the Concerto Funebre by Karl Amadeus Hartmann. It was an extremely hard concerto to find, but I had my music dealer continue to search until he located a copy. As you said, it is an extremely powerful piece of music. The string combination at the end is exceptionally poignant.
Iíve included a copy of the music for Connecticut born Charles Ives's Symphony No. 3. His compositions have been Ďrediscoveredí in the past few years. It is rumored that Mr. Ives is up for the Pulitzer Prize this year for this piece of music that he composed in 1904. I think with your ear for musical harmony that you will find this composition quite compelling.
As we have corresponded for several months now, I wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed our discussions on the musical world. I find your knowledge and insights to be thought provoking. I do hope that the reverse is also true. Please continue to offer more musical suggestions, and I will do the same.
I know that my wife Mary and Hans Shultz have been writing as well. They seemed to have found a common ground. Mary is heavily involved with Childrenís Charities here in Bridgeport and has given Hans pointers from her fundraising efforts.
Well. I hesitate to bring this up, as I donít know your feelings.
But this September we will be traveling to Germany for the dedication. On behalf of both Mary and myself, we wanted to give you enough of a headís up, because we were wondering if you and Hans were planning on being there for the ceremony? We were hoping that the four of us could meet. That is of course, only if meeting is something that you and Hans would agree to.
Just so you know, we have not told Rob about our correspondence. He has not mentioned anything to me, so we have assumed that neither of you have mentioned it to him. Personally, we both would like to meet you and Hans without Rob present. We love our son, but we think he would just make this whole situation harder.
Please let us know what your feelings are on this matter. If you would like to meet, but want Rob to be there, we will understand and agree to that. Of course, if you and Hans do not wish to meet and only wish to continue our correspondence. We will understand that as well. We realize that this could be a difficult situation for the four of us, but we would sincerely like to get past this last hurdle.
Michael and Mary Hogan
New York City, USA, Apartment Building of ĎSgt.í Steve Marlow, April 3, 1947, 1800 Hours
Steve returned home after a weekend in upstate New York. He was thinking about moving, but with all of the correspondence of the past year heíd put that desire on hold. Then Chris had moved to London, England of all places to work for Peter Newkirk. Boy had that been a surprise. Who would have bet on Newkirk being a theatre owner?! Before Chris had left for good they had further divided up the lists between continents. Now Chris had all of the men who lived in Europe or Australia, and he had all of the men who lived in American or Canada. The list was still fairly evenly divided. Stalag 13 had been very culturally diversified.
The dedication was now only six months away. It was time to send Rob an update on the numbers committed to returning to Germany.
April 3, 1947
As promised here is the six-month update.
As you know Chris has moved to London, and is still maintaining his half of the list, though his names are now all of the guys from over there. I expect that he is writing to you today as well.
Of the 1052 men on my list, 468 are definitely attending, 234 cannot make it at this time, (but most say that they will try to make the journey at a later time), and I am still waiting for replies from the remaining 350 men.
From the 468 definitely attending there will be 1872 people coming to Hammelburg for the dedication.
This is really shaping up into a first class celebration!
As you get more details of the events and accommodations available let me know and I will disseminate the information. Iíve arranged to Ďcharterí a steamer to have a lot of the people travel together from New York harbor. I have a buddy in the office of one of the steamer lines and heís interested in our reunion as an advertising plum. Thus weíre all going to get a very cheap rate. Iíve another buddy working for the New York Times. Heís already planning on running a whole week of stories on ĎPapa Bearí the week we all leave from the States to return to Germany. I think heís even coming along to report on the dedication.
This little reunion of ours is generating a lot of attention here in New York.
Iíll keep you up to date on developments here. I hope that you and your family are well. Please say hello to the people there for me.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan,
Parents of Major General Robert Hogan, May 1, 1947, 1730 Hours
John Hogan had just gotten home. It had been his last day of classes. Heís been studying avionics for the last year and a half. He finally had his degree. He hadnít yet told his parents that he got a job at Rockwell International, which based in Washington DC. It was going to be hard to move on. He had six weeks before his job began. He had so much to do, move, find a place to live. Tell his parents. Write to Rob and John. Tell Sue and Ed. Tell his parents.
Damn. Telling mom and dad is going to be hard. How can I just walk out on them? You are not walking out on them. You left once before didnít you? Yeah, but that was because of the war. And look where that got me, right back home, flat on my back and partially paralyzed. They have always been right there for me, every minute of everyday, through my entire recovery. When I leave, theyíll be alone. I know Sue is nearby, but it just doesnít feel right somehow. Damn.
John sat down and decided to write to his brothers, to let them know. He thought maybe he could ask their advice on how to tell parents things like this. He already knew that heíd never receive a response from either in time to help him with what he had to do. Tell his parents. But right now John needed to feel like he was at least touching base with his brothers.
Actually, Rob was going to be in Connecticut in mid June for a wedding. I was hoping to see him, Iím not sure Iíll have time, now. I would really like to sit with him someday and just talk. Weíve never talked much about the war, he and I. So far all our visits have been great, but they have always centered on the family. God, that isnít a bad thing. But, heís never even mentioned the war in any of his letters. I would just like to get a better peek inside Robís head, thatís all.
May 1, 1947
Hi guys. I have good news. Iíve finished my degree; actually my last class was today! I even have a job lined-up at Rockwell International in Washington DC. Itís a great position and great money (always a consideration, huh?). And I still get to play with airplanes! Fantastic. My job starts in six weeks.
Congratulate me, okay. I am so looking forward to this new job. I know it ainít the military. But at least Iíll still be playing with my favorite toys. The aviation industry is expected to take off (literally, ha). The industry expects that soon Ďcommercialí flights for civilians will be the fastest growing part of the industry. Really cool, huh. I still will miss flying, but you canít have everything, right?
Of course, this all means Iím moving out of the house. And out of the state. And leaving the nest, you know? I donít know what it was like for you guys when you decided to leave home. Hell, I did it too when I joined the Navy. But somehow nowÖ itís different. I havenít told mom and dad yet. I was writing to you guys to get advice on how to tell parents these things.
Donít worry, Iíll have already told them by the time you get this. I just need to think it through. Iím not even sure you guys will understand my dilemma. You werenít here every minute of every day during my illness. Iím not blaming you at all. Please donít get me wrong. Itís just that mom and dad were here. Never complaining, always instilling me with confidence that I could recover, especially during those first months where my Ďexpectedí full recovery was questionable. Not once did I see a tear being shed (even though, I knew they were there). Even when they had to literally push my sorry ass out of that bed. I never saw anything but confidence in their faces. I wasnít always the ideal patient, you know? That Hogan temper, Iíve got that too. But, they were always there. Always.
And this part I know you guys wonít understand. But in their eyes, Iím still the baby! God you think you would outgrow that, but it doesnít happen! So, when I leaveÖ they will be alone. Itís hard for me to think about leaving parents, who have sacrificed so much for me. Because, I know if I never recovered completely, they would still be there for me alwaysÖ And now Iím just going to leave.
Oh, I know. Itís my life. I get to lead it anyway I want. I understand all of that. And I even know mom and dad understand that. Itís just hard. Anyway guys, thanks for letting me vent.
John folded Joeís letter into its envelope and addressed it. As he went to do the same to Robís he realized he still needed to say stuff to Rob. Maybe even just to tell him about his desire to Ďtalkí to his older brother about the war. I canít talk to Joe about it. He never saw combat. Thank God, actually. Mom and dad could have lost all three of us. Iím glad he was always close by for them. And even though Rob and my experiences were ultimately very different -- What an understatement that is - I still want to hear what he has to say. So, John continued with another letter to Rob.
May 1, 1947
Hi there, again. I thought I had finished that letter. But as I went to put yours in the envelope, I realized I needed to say more to you.
It looks like I wonít be in Connecticut when you come for your friendís wedding. I was hoping to see you then. I was hoping to talk to you. Nothing drastic. But itís just that you and I have never talked much about the war. I was hoping to spend sometime picking my big brotherís brain.
I never could talk to Joe. Having never seen combat, he wouldnít understand. You know? God, thatís not a bad thing either. Iím so glad he never did.
Iím not even sure what I want to talk to you about really. No specific topic. I already have a fairly detailed picture of my big brother the Major Generalís, accomplishments. Maybe just your feelings. Like what you felt like when your plane got shot out from under you? I know as a fighter pilot, I only had my life in my hands. What was it like for you, being in command of a squadron and losing men under your command? Hell. You may not even want to tell me any of this. Itís just that you never mention it. I can imagine that it was incredibly hard on you.
Other than that our experiences diverged quite rapidlyÖan understatement, if Iíve ever heard one. Huh? But, I still would like to hash it out with you. Both times that weíve been together, Iíve never said anything. God, the first time you were home, those God-awful atomic bombs went off. And the second time, there was so much to work through about your Ďfriendsí, you know?
So anyway, I was thinking. Could you hit the Washington DC area before you head back to Germany? I hope so. I would really like to spend some time with you.
You, Beth and Michael can always stay with me. I still need to find an apartment, but Iíll make room. Donít worry. Mom and dad will have the address. I may not be able to pick you up at the station, depending on when your train arrives, but as long as you can get to the apartment on the day you arrive, Iíll have the landlord or a neighbor expect you. Please try and come.
Hope to talk to you soon
Wurzburg, Germany, US Military Base, Office of Dr. Kenneth Mitchell, May 8, 1947 0745 Hours
Major General Robert Hogan was waiting impatiently for Dr. Kenneth Mitchell to arrive at his office. He had called abruptly yesterday for an appointment. The only appointment available was for 8 oíclock in the morning. The General was early. Relax Rob. He is not late youíre early. Donít take it out on him. Yeah. Yeah.
Rob had received a letter yesterday, from his youngest brother, John. John had specifically asked Rob to come to Washington to see him, on his way back to Germany from the states. To maybe talk about the war. To maybe talk about his feelings. He realized that John was probably looking to get advice from his older brother. Maybe how to deal with those feelings. Rob had panicked and called for this appointment with Ken.
Damn. What good am I going to be to John? Hell, I want to be able to help him. I really do. But Iím still not able to help myself. The Doc thinks Iím doing fine. But the thought of disseminating advice, just doesnít sit right. Hell, Iím the older brother. Iím the Major General. Iím the War Hero (at least thatís what people keep telling me, and telling me). Iím the one who is supposed to have it all together, right? What a crock.
Kenneth Mitchell arrived at his office at 7:58 am. Damn good thing I wasnít late today. Whew. He could tell by Robís demeanor that something was really bothering him. His office assistant said that the General had been here since 7:30am.
"Good morning, Rob. Iím sorry that Iím late. I didnít mean to keep you waiting," Ken said. Well that should be enough to cover my ass if the General is in a bad mood. As much as I like Rob, when he gets his back up as Major General Robert Hogan, you need to mind your manners. I wonder what could have sent him into this panic attack. He doesnít generally have panic attacks. Something must have happened.
"Good morning Ken. No apology necessary. I was early," Rob said apologetically.
Good. That started better than I expected. "Okay, so why donít you tell me, what brought on this emergency appointment," Ken said calmly as he took a seat behind his desk. "I hate to say this, but you look really tense today. Is everything all right? Is it Beth or Michael?"
"No Ken. Iím sorry. Everythingís fine at home." Rob took a deep breath. "You now that Iíll be heading to the states next month for Andrew Carterís wedding. Well, I got a letter from my youngest brother John. He was the Navy fighter pilot. I know Iíve told you about him," Rob said, looking for Kenís recognition of his brother. Ken just nodded. "Well, he just got a new job in Washington DC. He wonít be in Connecticut when I get there. He wants me to stop in DC on my way back to see him." Rob paused.
"And thereís a problem with that?" asked Ken.
"He wants to talk to me about the war, and my feelings," Rob explained. "I think he wants his big brotherís advice on how to deal with his own feelings. What the hell am I supposed to say to him? That his Big Brother, the Major General, the War Hero, is a basket case who canít sleep though the night without medication." Rob got up from his seat and started pacing. "God damn it, Ken. I want to be able to help my brother. Heís had it rough. I just donít think Iíll be any good to him."
"Or," Ken said interrupting. "Is it that you are afraid that the ĎBig Brotherí, the ĎMajor Generalí and the ĎWar Heroí has to finally admit that he canít live up to everyoneís expectations?" Ken paused waiting for Rob to look at him. "Look Rob, ever since I met you and from all that Iíve learned about you. You have always needed to be the one in-charge, and thatís not a bad thing. But sometimes you need to let go of that. I think it would be good for you to talk to your brother. Be honest. Donít sugar coat anything. From what you told me, early on in the war you both were pilots. Use that as your basis. He may be having the same problems you are, but youíll never find out anything by avoiding him," Ken said pausing and trying to read his patient.
"You know Rob. Itís okay not to Ďhave it all togetherí. Look, in the eight months since youíve been coming here, weíve talked though a lot of stuff. Together we came to the conclusion that the things causing the nightmares are things you will never be able to change. Weíve agreed that you had to do horrible things to Ďget the job doneí. Weíve agreed that way too many people died because you gave the orders that brought about those deaths. Weíve agreed that you hate being referred to as a ĎWar Heroí because it just wants to make you throw up. And weíve discovered that you have a massive guilt trip for lying to your family for all that time," Ken said getting up to approach his patient.
"Rob, together I think weíve worked through a lot. You are now only on the smallest dose of medication possible. You understand why, how, and where those nightmares come from. You havenít had one in months. The reason youíre still even on the medication is that I cannot predict your subconscious mind. Thatís where all this is manifesting itself. Itís just going to take time. But I think if you give up the pretense of always being the one who has got it all together, at least with your family, then it may help you get past some of this. So start small and open up to your brother. Okay?" Ken asked.
"You really think that this might help?" asked Rob nervous.
"Yeah, I really do. Just admit that the Big Brother in you needs help from his Little Brother. Then I think youíll be fine. If you can do this with your family, it will make it easier all around. The one drawback here is that you will still be that "Major General" and that "War Hero" to everyone else. Even, as much as you donít like those labels, you still need to remember that you do deserve both. You saved a lot of lives with what you and your men did. And you helped bring Hitlerís Third Reich to its knees. What you did was necessary," Ken said and paused. "So anyway, I think if you can get re-grounded with your family, dealing with those labels wonít be as hard to cope with." Ken patted his patient on the shoulder. "So what do you think?"
"I think, Iíll just write my brother and confirm my reservations in Washington DC," Rob said confidently.
"Great. Iím always here. You now that. We donít have another appointment scheduled before you leave. If you want one, just call. Okay? Good luck Rob," Ken said reaching out to shake Robís hand.
Rob returned the handshake, "Thanks Ken. Iíll talk to you when I get back."
"Okay," said Ken. Damn, I always have to be careful to balance what I say to Rob. Iíve had to face my own attitude about the man and his operation. Itís hard, because Iíd easily be one of those heaping praise on the guy. I never told him that my younger brother was one of those thousands of Allied Servicemen rescued by his operation. Every once in a while I find myself wanting to hug the guy for my brotherís sake. But then, in listening to Robís stories, itís amazing that he and his men ever made it back alive. No wonder the man has nightmares, trying to keep all that bottled up inside. God. Rob I hope you can open up to your brother. I really do.
Rob had left the office and drove himself to his office. After he got there, he decided to write John before he chickened out.
May 8, 1947
Hey little brother. Congrats on the new job! Sounds great! You were always the one to tinker with stuff. What fun you are going to have. Youíll be designing those big passenger jets that Iíve been hearing about. Iím really happy for you.
I know it isnít the military and you wonít be flying. I know that must be tough. But I know youíll be successful in whatever you do. Hey look at me, stuck behind a desk. Five years ago, I never would have thought that possible. But lifeís unpredictable. You do what you have to, you know?
I wanted to let you know that we will be stopping in Washington DC on the way back to Germany. Beth, Michael and I should arrive in DC on June 30th. I have four days to spare. We will be leaving on the July 5th. Beth has never seen Washington for the 4th of July Celebration. Thanks for letting us stay with you. I hope we wonít be too much trouble. Donít worry we will manage to get to your apartment without you just fine that first day. Iíve already arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport. One of the perks of being a Major General, I was able to commandeer a driver from the Pentagon. I donít even have to tell them where Iím going. Theyíll just come get me.
I do have some Military Governor stuff to do, meetings and such, but most of it is during the day. I had assumed you couldnít get time off so soon. We will have time to talk. Iím sorry that weíve never done it before now. Iím really looking forwarded to seeing you.
Hey can I get a tour of Rockwell International? Iíd love to see that avionics think tank. Do you think theyíd let a Major General wonder about?
Talk to you soon,
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, June 13, 1947, 1730 Hours
"Rob, do you have everything you want in the bag?" Beth called out to her husband as she poked her head in the library on her way to the master suite with some clean laundry. They were leaving in the morning for America and Andrewís wedding.
"Almost everything, Beth. The only thing I donít think Iíve packed yet is my medication," Rob replied. "I just want to dash off a quick note to Kyle Birmingham. I was talking with Wilhelm and Hans today about attending the dedication. Neither Wilhelm nor Shultz are going to attend. They didnít want to face all the menís relatives, nor did they want to be around any of the Military Dignitaries expected to show up. I canít really blame them. Itís not an easy position to be in. Wilhelm is planning on staying at Hansí for those two weeks. But anyway, that got me to thinking of whom else was in camp at the end. It was then that I realized I hadnít invited Kyle to the dedication."
"Rob, there is still so much to do before we leave," Beth pointed out exasperated. "Weíre leaving early in the morning." She wished that Rob had thought of writing this letter sooner. Louis and Michelle werenít arriving till very late tonight, and then in the morning the five of them would take the train to the coast where they would catch a steamer for America. The journey was going to take a week. Couldnít Rob just write the letter from the ship?
"I know. I know. Iíll be in to help you finish packing in a few moments. This letter wonít take long to write," Rob replied, pulling a piece of writing paper from his desk.
June 13, 1947
Wow. Itís been two years since you and I parted company at Stalag 13. Many things have happened in those two years.
As youíre already aware, I was appointed the Military Governor of the US Controlled Zone in Southern Germany. Okay, so I held them over a barrel and demanded the posting. The posting has been a hard balance between what the United Nations demands and the needs of the population of Germany. I hope Iíve struck an appropriate balance. I havenít had too many issues of non-compliance. Nor have I had any major complaints from either the United Nations or the civilian German government.
The thing that has most surprised me is that the people of Hammelburg, even those who were not part of my organization, are very proud of the fact that ĎPapa Bearí called Hammelburg Ďhome.í They are dedicating a school to us this September. As an unofficial member of my staff at the end, I am inviting you to take part in this dedication ceremony. So please, I would appreciate if you tried to come.
Another thing I am sure you are aware of is that Goering committed suicide before he was brought to trial. I appreciate that you were able to deliver him, along with the other prisoners to Nuremberg. But in light of what happened, I wish I had allowed some sort of reckoning for that Bastard while I held him at Stalag 13. I had to spend three weeks at the Nuremberg trials, which included three days as an expert witness. It was a very hard three days. Telling the court about what I knew, what I saw. -- Well it was hard.
On a more positive note, I know that Beth and Karen correspond regularly, so I am sure you know about Michael. Itís great being a dad. Marrying Beth was the best thing I have ever done. She is a gem beyond words. It was hard at first for Beth to fit in here in Hammelburg. The language barrier was hard on her at first, but she worked hard, and had mastered the language by the end the first year. Nowís she speaks German like a native.
I also wanted to give you an update on the men that you knew best during your short time at Stalag 13.
Ivan Kinchloe stayed in the military as a Captain. He returned to Hammelburg as my aide. Within a year he had been offered another promotion, this time to Major, to teach at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. It was quite an accomplishment for him to be offered that, with no strings attached. So Kinch, is now in Massachusetts, and is very much enjoying himself.
Peter Newkirk returned home to London with plans on opening a pub. But before he got very far with that endeavor he visited the London Palladium where he was often a performer before the War. The theatre was in horrible disarray and its owner had no plans on refurbishing. Peter bought the theatre. He spent a year refurbishing and the theatre had reopened to record sell-out performances last October.
Louis LeBeau returned to France, and unfortunately discovered that his family was nowhere to be found. In the course of the first year after the war, he discovered that both his mother and younger sister were dead. Over the past year I was able to help him find out about his father and youngest sister. Sadly his father had also died. Fortunately his youngest sister, Michelle, was still alive, but living in an orphanage. Louis is now raising her. That and his new restaurant ĎRobuchoní is keeping him fairly occupied. ĎRobuchoní was an immediate gastronomical success. Louis will have no difficulties. The man is an absolute genius with food.
And finally, Andrew Carter. He returned to his hometown of Bullfrog, North Dakota and is working toward a degree in teaching. He is now working as a teacherís aid in high school level science. Good luck to the high school! Hopefully it will be still standing after Andrew is through! He sounds very happy and is now engaged. Actually, Beth and I will be leaving for America in the morning to attend his wedding. He asked me to be his Best Man, actually he asked Ďthe Colonelí to be his Best Man. Too long of an explanation, just say Iím twice privileged.
For the dedication, I understand that there are 1500 of the 2000 men coming. With their families the total number of people coming will be close to 3,000 people. It is going to be quite the party. I hope the town of Hammelburg can support an influx of that many people! The town council is overjoyed at the number of my organization that are coming, and they have a whole two weeks of activities planned.
Hope to see you in September.
Four Seasons Hotel, Hartford CT, Wedding Reception of Andrew and Ruth Carter,
June 26, 1947, 7 PM Local Time
Andrew Carter watched amused as ĎColonelí Hogan, decked out in full 3-star General military regalia escorted Ruthís best friend, Susan Fleming down the stairs into the room where the reception was being held. Ivan Kinchloe and one of Ruthís three bridesmaids followed them down the stairs. Louis LeBeau and Peter Newkirk each followed suit with the remaining two bridesmaids. The bride and groom followed, and the five couples did the first dance around the ballroom floor. When the dance ended, Rob gave a half-bow to his partner and escorted her to the head table where he seated her gallantly.
"Are you really a General?" Susan asked him. "Andy told Ruth you were a Colonel."
"I was a Colonel when I first met Andrew," Rob replied with an easy smile. "Andrew still refers to me like that in odd moments. I was his commanding officer during the war."
"Oh, how exciting!" Susan replied, her eyes shinning.
"Perhaps," Rob replied. "Excuse me while I check with my wife for a moment." Rob moved away from the head table to where the two sets of parents, Beth and Michelle were seated. He wanted to make sure that Susan realized he was escorting her, only as a convention. Best Man to Maid of Honor. He was a happily married man, and intended to stay that way.
He leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek.
"Nice dancing," Beth teased. She had not missed Susanís obvious ploys.
"Iím glad you thought so," Rob groaned. Ever since meeting Susan yesterday at the rehearsal she had been grating on his nerves. Though last nights feast prepared by Louis had been divine.
"Donít worry about it," Beth advised. "So long as I get the rest of them, I donít care."
"My dance card is very full," Rob assured her. "It has one name on it. And she is absolutely beautiful this evening in a very lovely evening gown." Rob raised Bethís hand to his lips and kissed it gallantly. "And since we are all staying here in the hotel this evening we will dance until youíve had enough. Tonight is for you."
Beth laughed. "Go. Beast. Youíve duties."
"Yes maíam," Rob replied with a sultry wink. He sauntered back to the head table where he had to give Andrewís toast. Heíd been thinking for months what to say. He seated himself, next to Andrew. Andrew looked very distinguished in his wedding tux, and Ruth was radiant in her gown of white. A very handsome couple indeed.
After everyone in the hall was settled and the servers had ensured that all had a full glass of champagne Rob rose to his feet. The hall became quiet and waited for him to speak.
"Well tonight we have gathered here to witness two young people marry. Such a joyous occasion, always best when shared by family and good friends. I am standing here today as Andrewís best man, because he truly couldnít choose between his four closest friends. He has chosen me to represent us all. And as ĎColonelí Hogan I am very flattered and have been honored to stand up for him tonight. I could tell a thousand truly embarrassing stories about our groom, and some would say that is the duty of every best man." There was a round of laughter over that comment from those who knew Andrew, though the majority of people in attendance were from the brideís side. "But instead Iíll only say that never have I known a more loyal and steady man. It was an honor to have him under my command, and I truly believe that neither myself nor the other members of my unit would be standing here today without the vital contributions that Andrew made. He was always a bright spot in a not so cheerful place, and good for a laugh when they came hard. On a more personal note, I am very proud to call Andrew Carter my friend, and hope to continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Ruth, be patient with him. Heís accident-prone but, as I am sure you realize by now, he has a heart of gold. Andrew approaches everything he does with the same high child-like enthusiasm. Treasure that, itís a rare commodity in a World such as we live in. So I propose a toast, to Andrew and Ruth Carter, long may their happiness last!"
The toast was drunk, and the servers came back out with the first course of the meal.
"Govínr," Newkirk said from where he sat next to Susan. "You were supposed to roast Ďem!"
Rob grinned, "I know I was Peter. But I couldnít. Andrew didnít deserve that from me today. Besides heís got me decked out in uniform. How would it have looked that a three-star General destroyed his former Sergeant verbally?"
"He would have expected it," Newkirk replied.
"Yeah, maybe from you guys, but not from me," Rob countered. "Besides we roasted him two nights ago at that splendid stag party you threw him, Peter."
Peter grinned in happy memory of the event. "Um. Yeah. I quite outdid meself on that one, didnít I?"
"Oui." LeBeau agreed, entering into the conversation. "I donít believe that Ruthís brothers have recovered yet!"
"They probably learned more about Andrew than they wanted to," Ivan added from further down the table. "Not that they probably believed half of what they heard!"
"Be that as it may," Rob replied with a grin of amusement. "Tonight is another night, and hopefully one with more dignity on our parts."
"You take the fun outta everything, you do govínr," Peter protested but he subsided.
The meal was consumed with pleasant conversation, though Louis had several comments on how the meal was prepared. Then came the first few dances. Rob escorted Andrewís mother, Marion, and then Ruthís mother, Isobel. Each had been an interesting conversation.
Marion had thanked him for taking care of her son. Rob had smiled and answered her that it had been a joint effort on everyoneís part. They had all taken a vital role in ensuring the survival of the rest of the team.
Isobel had wanted to know just who her son-in-law was that he could have an obviously important 3-star General appear to be his best man. Rob had replied honestly that they had all been guests of the Germans during the War. They had all learned to rely upon each other, regardless of their ranks. He had been a Colonel. Andrew had been a Staff Sergeant. Rank hadnít mattered then and it certainly didnít matter now. He had also said he would do anything or go anywhere for the four men present tonight. Louis, Ivan, Peter and Andrew. He assured Isobel that she would enjoy having Andrew as a son-in-law, and that he would take good care of her daughter.
After those few obligatory duties, Rob attached himself firmly to his wife where he fully intended to remain for the rest of the night. It had been too long since he and Beth had been able to enjoy themselves with no political or parental strings attached. After several dances, Beth returned to the table while Rob got them both something from the bar. The only ones still at the table were Michelle and one of Andrewís nephews, Tom, who was Andrewís sister Donnaís son. Donna had accompanied Andrewís parents to the wedding, bringing her fourteen-year-old son with her.
The two kids were trying hard to understand each other. Michelle spoke very limited English, and Tom didnít speak a word of French. Whatever they were doing, it seemed to be working. Smiles were emanating from both Michelle and Tom. Rob arrived then with a small tray of drinks; sodas for the two kids, a beer for himself and a glass of wine for Beth.
"Merci, Oncle Rob," Michelle said, sipping her soda.
"Thanks," Tom echoed.
"De rien, je vous en prie, Michelle. Youíre welcome, Tom," Rob replied. Heíd picked up a few French phrases over the years. He was not fluent and his accent was atrocious, but he could get his point across. Actually here, Beth was more lingual, as she did speak rather good French with a passable accent.
Rob sat down, his gaze focused on Beth, as if no one else existed. Beth is radiant tonight. How lucky can you be Hogan? Donít ever let her go. When she finished half of her glass, Rob gallantly escorted Beth back to the dance floor. They danced far into the night, before saying goodnight to the others guys.
All of them were staying at the hotel tonight. Tomorrow would bring an end to a wonderful time for them all. They all planned to do breakfast in the morning, to say their goodbyes. Then Andrew and Ruth would be off on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls. Louis, Michelle and Peter would be traveling back to England. Louis and Michelle would then make the short hop across the channel back to France from Dover. Ivan was due back at Fort Devens tomorrow afternoon. Rob and Beth would be returning to Bridgeport for a couple of days, then heading to Washington for an additional few days, to see Robís brother John, before heading back to Germany.
All-in-all, it had been a very enjoyable wedding. But nothing could ever surpass the camaraderie that existed between the five former POWs. Even with the time spent apart, they were still bound together like brothers.
Washington, DC, USA, Apartment of John Hogan, June 30, 1947, 1300 hours
Rob, Beth and Michael arrived at Johnís apartment early in the afternoon. Rob had dismissed the driver from the Pentagon. Johnís landlord had met them as they entered the building and let them into Johnís apartment. Rob and Beth spent some time getting acclimated. John had left a long note explaining which was their bedroom, where everything was etc. And John already had dinner planned. So basically, Rob and Beth made themselves at home.
It was close to 2:30pm, by the time they had unpacked and had gotten Michael settled. He had eaten and gone in for his nap almost immediately. John was due home around 4:00pm. Both Rob and Beth went to sit on the balcony of Johnís apartment for that last hour and a half. It was a beautiful June day, and people were out in droves. They had a great view of the thoroughfare. They just spent the time people watching, and relaxing. Or trying to anyway, Beth could tell that Rob was really nervous.
"Rob, please relax. It will be okay. Why are you so uptight? Your brother loves you, thatís all that matters," Beth said comforting.
"Beth, I know that. But in your family, youíre the youngest. You donít understand what it means to be the oldest. Iím supposed to be the one that my younger siblings can come to for help. And now I have to lay it on the line and tell my youngest brother I donít have the answers. Itís really hard for me," Rob said nervously.
"Ken told you this would be the best thing. Trust that Ken is right. John will understand. But maybe John isnít even looking for answers, maybe just someone with similar experiences," Beth stated.
"Okay Beth, it will be fine. Iíve already committed to telling him my situation. Iíll work though it. I just hope I can get him some of the answers heís looking for," Rob answered.
John arrived home promptly at 4:00pm. He hugged both Beth and Rob as they came in from the balcony. "Oh God, itís great to see you guys! So, the landlord must have let you in. Good. Did you find the apartment all right? Sorry, it isnít quite up to par with the Governorís Mansion. Did you have any trouble getting settled? Did my note make sense?" John asked excitedly.
"Whoa little brother. Everything was fine. No problems. We even got a chance to relax on the balcony. Great view by the way," Rob said.
"Fantastic. I had made dinner reservations at the Café Royal here in town, but I thought maybe you guys would want to relax. So I found this caterer that does anything from small intimate dinners to huge functions. They should be arriving soon. Plus I didnít know Michaelís schedule. We can do dinner out some other night. Hopefully thatís okay?" John asked worried.
"John, that will be great," Beth said comforting. "I could use the time to relax. Between your family and Robís friends and the wedding, it will be nice to have a quiet dinner."
"Rob, is it all right with you? I actually thought that I might try to make dinner, but Iím not really set up for that, just moving in and all," John said. "Not to mention, Iím not very good cook." Damn, calm down. Itís only your big brother. I so want to show him his younger brother can handle himself.
"John, everything is fine. Iím very happy just spending dinner quietly here in your apartment," Rob said. God Damn it. Heís a nervous wreck. Trying to impress me? Or am I just making him nervous? "It will give us more time to talk." Why did you bring that up?
"Okay great. Let me go change and take a peek in at Michael. Iíll be out soon. Dinner should be here within the next 45 minutes," John said as he headed for his bedroom, but turned back. "Damn. What kind of host am I? Do you guys want anything to drink? Thereís soda, beer, wine, and some more substantial stuff as well."
"Relax John. Iíve already raided your beer supply, and Beth is quite happy with her glass of wine," Rob said sheepishly, pointing back out towards the balcony. "You can go do what you need to. Weíll be fine."
"Okay. Okay," John said and this time disappeared into his bedroom. Damn. Calm down. Youíre acting like an idiot. Your brother will think youíre crazy. Itís amazing, Rob never comes across nervous. I wish I had his resolve. No wonder he was able to achieve all that he did. And you canít even get through pleasantries without acting jumpy.
After John went into his bedroom, Rob turned to Beth. "God Damn Beth. Iím making him nervous." Heís probably picking up on my stress. Calm down, making your brother a nervous wreck wasnít why you came here.
"Everything will be fine Rob," Beth said. "Remember, just be honest with John. He will understand. You know what? After dinner, Iíll leave you guys alone. Iíll take Michael in our room and you guys can talk."
"You donít have to leave," Rob said, too quickly.
"Yeah, I do. I love you and I understand your feelings. I just donít think youíll be as honest with John, if Iím still in the room," Beth said rather pointedly. "Because I know, even when Iíve been at the sessions with you and Ken that you still sugar coat stuff for my benefit. I can live with the sugarcoating, you canít. So, Iíll just excuse myself after dinner. Okay?"
Rob just nodded. Damn. I canít really hide stuff from Beth. Why do I even try anymore?
Dinner had gone off effortlessly. The caterers had everything planned. The food was wonderful, including the old PB&J standby for Michael. Conversation was casual, about Johnís new job, about the tour John had worked out for Rob at Rockwell International, about the wedding, about Sue and Edís new twin girls, Theresa and Emily, and the rest of the family. Actually, by the end of dinner and desert, both John and Rob had relaxed enough that Beth and Michael could make their exit.
"Beth didnít have to leave you know," John said. "I didnít invite you here to make Beth hide in your room."
"No you didnít. But you did invite me here to talk. Beth just doesnít want to be an obstacle to that conversation," Rob said. "And I have to admit -- that I would let her be. Talking isnít what I do best."
"Hey Rob. Listen," John said apologetically. "I donít want you to feel obligated to Ďtellí me something. Iíd be just as happy hanging with you as talking with you. It just that Iíve been amazed by what youíve been able to accomplish, through what I know had to be really tough times for you. I guess I was hoping, that if we spent time talking, some of that ability would rub off on me. You always seemed to have it together, anytime I see you, and even from your letters. I just wish I could corral some of that confidence."
"Whoa John. Thatís enough ego boosting for one day. Okay?" Rob said sarcastically. "I wanted to say the same to you. That Iíve been awed by what youíve been able to accomplish, through what I know had to be really tough times for you. I know that I wouldnít have been able to bounce back the way you did from your injuries. I probably would have curled up and died."
"You, curl up and die. I seriously doubt that about you Rob. You, my Big Brother, the War Hero, the Major General, ready to curl up and die. Impossible." John said quickly, not noticing the cringe that ran down his brotherís spine. "Me, on the other hand. I was very close at one point to checking out. The thought of existing in that condition permanently was too much to fathom. Do you know what kept me going, besides mom and dad?" John paused and looked intently at his brother. "It was you. I couldnít possibly do what I was thinking. I had to know what happened to you. I could never have left mom and dad with only one son, if something had happened to you. But, if I had still been paralyzed when Joe located you alive, I might have committed suicide then. At least mom and dad would still have you and Joe. And believe me Rob, more than anything else, I wanted you and Joe to be the ones to be with mom and dad. I was going to be no good to them in that condition, just a burden. But as it happened, I stuck it out, and recovered, only because you were still among the missing." John got up from the dinner table. "So, Rob. Nice thoughts on my part, huh? Thanks big brother for living through hell. I wouldnít be here now if you werenít where you were then. So donít be awed by me, I had nothing to do with my recovery. I was forced into it by guilt."
"Damn it John. Please. Please donít lay your recovery on my shoulders," Rob said nervously. He stood up from the dinner table as well. "You are telling me, that if you knew I was alive during those last eight months, you might have committed suicide." He sighed and shook his head. "You canít lay that one on me John, you just canít!" Rob had gone to sit on the living room couch. "God damn it, John! You canít make me responsible for that too! I canít handle it!" He sat heavily and ran his hands over his face and through his hair. Then resting his head in his hands, he mumbled to himself, "Oh God, not another person to have been responsible for. Damn it John, now youíll be in my nightmares."
John watched in shock until Rob finally settled on the couch. Rob was still sitting with his head in his hands. Joe realized that Robís last comment was not meant for his ears. Something about nightmares. Damn. Robís distraught; Iíve never seen him like this. My God. What brought this on? "Rob, whatís the matter? Iím so sorry. Hey listen, it didnít happen. Donít blame yourself for anything. Iíd never want you to feel that it could have been your fault. Thatís not why I said anything! Damn I have enough guilt for just having those thoughts. -- Iíll survive if my brother doesnít - great thoughts for a brother to have huh? I just wanted to be honest with you. Get stuff off my chest, you know? I never expected that admission to affect you like it is. Iím so sorry."
Rob looked up at his brother, his eyes bright. "So you just assumed that your Big Brother, the War Hero, the Major General could handle anything you threw at him huh?" Rob asked shaking his head. "Well John, I guess itís my turn to let you in on the dirty little secret your big brother has carried around with him for two years." Rob got up from the couch and approached his brother. "You see. Your big brother is a psychiatric outpatient at the base hospital in Wurzburg, Germany. It seems that your big brother canít sleep through the night without medication. Heís prone to severe nightmares, all stemming from the over 3 years he spent at Stalag 13 and his position that had him responsible for the lives of over 2000 people. Any or all of whom could have died with one wrong decision made by your big brother." Rob turned away from his brother, "I canít handle being made responsible for you too." Rob turned back, taking in Johnís slack jawed expression. "God damn it John. Iím not angry with you. I would have gladly given my life to save yours, and I still would for that matter. But thinking that my living could have caused you to take your life, I just canít handle that." Rob walked away from his brother and sat back down at the kitchen table not facing John.
John at first had no response to make, but he knew he had to say something. God damn. Rob, a psychiatric outpatient? I would never have thought that possible, or necessary. Iíve never seen Rob distraught. -- Over anything. -- Heís always been the one that seemed to have it all together. -- Oh, so thatís it then, huh? -- He has been keeping everything bottled up inside. -- Damn. -- For how long? "Iím sorry Rob. I really am. I donít want you to feel responsible for me. I canít possibly take back what I said. It was the truth. -- I always felt I could go to you with anything, growing up. I never once doubted that you would always be there for me. Thatís probably why I picked you to focus those feelings on. -- I do realize that the war has interfered, but I just never really expected or wanted things to change between you and I. It was wrong of me to make that assumption. Iím sorry that Iíve taken advantage of that. I really didnít understand your situation," John approached his brother and put a hand Rob on his shoulder. "Hey big brother, if youíll let me, I want to be here for you now. How can I help?"
Rob tried desperately to control the shiver that threatened to run down his spine as his brother touched him. He was successful, but just barely. He then addressed John calmly, "John, donít worry. Iím fine. Really. You can relax. Iím not crazy. Not yet anyway. Iíve worked through a lot of my fears with the doctor at the base. When I got your letter asking me to come and talk with youÖ Well, I panicked. I wasnít ready to talk because it meant that I would have to admit to having problems. The doctor convinced me that talking to you could be the best move in helping me overcome my fear of admitting to myself and others, that I donít Ďhave it all together.í" Rob took a deep breath, "I honestly just wasnít expecting to hear what you just told me, John. But, Iíll deal with it. Everything will be fine. The most important thing to me is that youíre alive, and we can actually have this conversation."
John was taken aback at first. Rob now looks calm, cool and collected. And heís trying to comfort me. What a crock! "What the hell do you mean? Donít worry about it John? Iíll deal with it John? How? Not five minutes ago, you fell apart on my couch! You canít just bury this! So, thatís what youíve been doing all along! How long have you been burying the feelings you canít handle? -- You know your pretty dam good at it too. I almost fell for it. -- God damn it Rob, no wonder youíve got problems!" John replied loud and angry into his brotherís face. He had spun the chair his brother was sitting in, out from the dinner table. He was trying to get Rob to open up Ö even if it took getting him angry. "Damn. What the hell have you been doing to yourself!"
"Who the hell do you think you are? Donít you dare tell me how to deal with anything! Youíve no idea! None." Rob yelled furious, standing to face his brother. "You have no idea what it took for me to get through those three and a half years! Everyone depending upon me, every minute of every day. Over 2,000 people. Men, women and children. Even one mistake on my part and we could have all been dead. -- In a blink of an eye."
"So you did spend all that time burying your feelings. God damn it Rob. No wonder those feelings are backing up into nightmares!" John stated, and then he smirked at his old brother. "Damn. I bet theyíre doosies!" John saw anger flare on his brotherís face. Whoa, I guess getting him mad is working.
"What do you know about nightmares? How can you make a judgment about my nightmares?" Rob demanded. He couldnít believe that John would make light of his problems.
"Iím not trying to judge anything, Rob. But, I do understand nightmares," John said emphatically. "I had my own share of nightmares and still do. I even lived through one for almost eight months." John again put his hand on Robís shoulder. "Listen big brother, Iím new at this helping thing. Iím really just trying to make you see that you shouldnít bottle all that inside of you. Damn, it seems that we both have plenty of things we can talk about. That is what you came here for wasnít it? Perhaps itís time that we just lean on each other? What do you say?" John asked.
Rob stared at his brother for a moment, his anger draining away. "Yeah. I guess youíre right." Rob reached out and took his brother into an embrace and said, "You know, your doing okay with the helping thing." Joe returned the embrace. "For a novice, that is," continued Rob. They both laughed and the tension just disappeared.
For the rest of the evening, they talked, they laughed, they drank beer, and sometimes they even cried. It was just before midnight when Beth came out to check on them. They had both been quiet for a long while. She thought that they might have both fallen asleep. But she saw that the two brothers were sitting on the balcony, still talking. Beth smiled, relieved. Things seemed to have worked out. For a while this evening, I wasnít sure that it would. Rob could be so stubborn. Iíll see how it goes in the next few days. She hoped to write and tell Ken that he had been right.
July 3, 1947
I thought Iíd write and tell you how we made out with Robís brother John. They got off to a real rocky start, but after that Johnís been a great help. In fact, the two of them have seemed to help each other. They havenít really confided in me what theyíve been talking about. But I can tell that it has helped. Rob is more relaxed. Iíve even heard him laugh more in the past few days, than he has in months.
Theyíve been good for each other. When theyíre able to be together, theyíve become almost inseparable. It is going to be hard to say goodbye in two more days. Iím hoping that this will have a lasting effect on Rob, and John as well.
Iím sure Rob will tell you all about it when we return to Germany. But it has been such a relief to see Rob happy again. Iíd almost forgotten what that was like. The last nine months have been so hard, for both of us.
Weíll both be seeing you soon.
Washington DC, USA, Home of Rockwell International Marketing Vice-President Scott Foster,
July 10, 1947, 1800 hours
Scott Foster was waiting on his son, Major Paul Foster. It was his son's birthday and they had made dinner plans. Paul was stationed at the Pentagon on detached service from the US Army. It was fortunate for both men that Paul got the posting he desired when he returned from Germany after the war. Scott's wife Frances, Paul's mother, had died while Paul was being held captive in a POW camp in Hammelburg Germany. Now they could spend more time together, trying to make up for what they lost. Paul credits his commanding officer from that POW camp, the now infamous Papa Bear, for his promotion and getting him the posting he wanted.
Paul has always been pretty quiet about his time at Stalag 13. He had returned to the states to hometown hero worship for his connection to Papa Bear's organization. Paul had taken it in stride at first, but has since tried to distance himself from it. Scott can never tell what his son is feeling about his time there. One minute he is ecstatic about talking about the men he served with, but the next doesn't want to talk about what he and those men did during that time. Scott has tried to talk to him many times. There is one incident that Paul has admitted to me, that does cause an occasional bad dream. It was the only mission he had command of, having something to do with destroying an airfield. He says all he can see now, in his mindís eye, are the many people who died at that airfield. He told me he knows that what he did was necessary, and he would do it again. It just doesnít make those deaths hurt any less.
Damn. That reminds me, Paul's mail about the Stalag 13 POW reunion keeps getting sent here. There was a new letter that just came the other day. Scott went to find the correspondence before Paul arrived. As he picked up the letter, he noticed the return address. It was different from the prior letters. This one came directly from the Office of Military Governor, Major General Robert Hogan, Hammelburg Germany. Damn. Major General Robert Hogan? Wasn't that the name of that General that just toured Rockwell the other day? Oh no, I never made the connection. Paul always refers to him as 'Colonel Hogan'. I'll have to let Paul know. He's going to be disappointed that he missed him.
Paul entered the house just a few minutes later, "Hello dad." He found his father in the kitchen, holding an envelope in his hand. "What's that?" Paul asked.
"Hello son," Scott replied. "It's another letter about the reunion. It's from the Office of Military Governor, Major General Robert Hogan, Hammelburg Germany."
"Fantastic," Paul said as he took the letter from his dad and read it.
June 10, 1947
To My Fellow POWs
I'm writing to everyone to extend my sincere thanks for the efforts you all have made to return to Germany for the School Dedication to Papa Bear and his organization. I am happy to inform you that the local Civilian Government in Hammelburg will pay for all your housing costs here.
In the uncertain times that have befallen Germany in the aftermath of the war, you all should be proud that the one unanimous decision made by the Civilian Government was to support us in this way.
Housing for all of you will be spread throughout the towns surrounding Hammelburg, as well as Hammelburg. Transportation will be provided to and from all events. There are many events planned for the time between August 27th and September 10th. The dedication itself is on September 3rd.
I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to welcome you back to Germany. Things have been like a whirlwind for me here, but everything is pulling together nicely. I think you will all be pleasantly surprised by the recovery of the Hammelburg area. (One of the first things that I authorized was the reconstruction of the Hammelburg Bridge. Using steel!) I'm looking forward to seeing and talking to everyone and meeting your families. Two weeks doesn't feel like enough time to get reacquainted. But we will make it work. We have always been able to make 'it' work, even in less desirable conditions.
See you soon.
Major General Robert Hogan,
a.k.a. 'Colonel' Hogan
a.k.a. ĎPapa Bearí
"Hey, that's great. The civilian government of the US Controlled Zone is paying for the housing for the reunion. What a nice gesture. It's going to be great to see everyone," Paul said excitedly.
"You know Paul, I realized something as I read the return address on that envelope. Remember I told you of the Army General that toured Rockwell the other day?" Scott said, waiting for Paul's acknowledgement. "Well damn, it was Major General Robert Hogan. I never made the connection. You call him 'Colonel' so often, I never even thought there was a connection."
"Oh Damn. Do you know why he was touring Rockwell? Do you think he's still in Washington?" asked Paul. "I'll check at the Pentagon tomorrow."
"Actually Paul, I heard that he was in Washington visiting his brother who just started working at Rockwell," Scott paused. "Damn, I think his brother works as a design engineer. I can check tomorrow for you. Maybe the General's still in town."
"Oh could you dad? That would be great! If the General is still in town, it will be great to see him. If not, it would still be nice to meet his brother. Maybe he will be heading to Germany for the reunion," Paul said hopeful.
"I will definitely check for you Paul. I'm sorry that I didn't make the connection. But his position was never mentioned to me during the tour. If I heard anything about him being the Military Governor in Hammelburg, I would have made the connection," Scott told his son.
"Don't worry dad. I'll see him in September. Though it would have been nice to see him before then, if I had the chance," Paul stated, and then changed the subject. "Hey, weren't we going out for dinner? Let's go. The birthday boy doesn't like waiting."
"Okay let's go birthday boy," Scott said putting his arm around his son's shoulders. They headed for the door.
Washington DC, USA, Rockwell International, Office of John Hogan, Design Engineer,
July 11, 1947, 1000 hours
John Hogan looked up from the blueprints on his desk when he heard the knock on his door. "Come in," he said. An older man entered. John recognized him as one of the VP's in the company but didn't really know his name. "Good Morning." John stood and extended his hand. "I'm sorry sir, but I have to admit to not remembering your name."
"Good Morning John. I'm Scott Foster, Vice-President of Marketing. It is John Hogan, isn't it?" Scott said, shaking John's hand.
"It is. What can I do for you Mr. Foster?" asked John curious. "I hope I haven't upset the powers that be after only one month on the job."
"Oh God John. No, this is actually a social visit. Please call me Scott," Foster said. "Would you mind, if I sat?" Scott pointed to a chair.
"Of course not, please make yourself comfortable. Would you like some coffee?" asked John. "I can have my secretary get you some."
"No John. That's fine. Please relax. Sit." Scott sat, waiting for John to do the same and then continued, "Well the first thing I should ask you is... Was that your brother, Major General Robert Hogan who toured the company last week?"
"Yes, it was. Rob and his family were in town visiting with me. Rob was intrigued with the company knowing that I got a job here right after finishing my degree. He had been a pilot early in his military career. Was there a problem with his visit? I'm sure if anything happened, it was unintentional," John said confused, having no clue what this guy was going to tell him.
"John please relax, I just wanted to make sure I was talking to the right person. I should have just come out and asked you if your brother was Papa Bear?" Scott said sheepishly.
"Oh. Whew. Load of my mind. Yes, my brother is the one and only Papa Bear. He didn't want to advertise that all over the company when he toured," John explained. "So what can Papa Bear's little brother do for you Scott?"
"Actually, it's more Ďwhat you can doí for my son, Major Paul Foster. Paul, who was a Sergeant at the time, served with your brother in Germany. I never made the ĎPapa Bearí connection until just last night. Paul was wondering whether your brother was still in town. Other than that he said that he would like to meet you. He was wondering whether you were heading to Germany for the Stalag 13 reunion. I guess you can say he's being nosey," Scott again said sheepishly. "And I get to be his messenger."
"Wow, I'm sorry Scott. Rob left on the 5th. That's a shame; I know how much those men meant to him. He would have jumped at the chance to talk to your son, I'm sure," John assured. "And I would love to meet your son. I'm still awed by my big brother. I'd love to talk to people who served with him. I'm really disappointed that I won't be going to Germany in September. It would have been a great opportunity to meet the men who my brother claims are the real reason that Papa Bear's operation succeeded."
"So you won't be going. Why? I'm even going with Paul. It would seem to be a crime that a member of Papa Bear's family won't be there," Scott said sympathetically.
"Thanks for caring, Scott. But I just started this job four weeks ago. Taking two weeks off after just starting a new job is not whatís expected from a new employee. Rob already knows I won't be there. He was disappointed, but understands," John explained.
"Did you even talk to your boss? Let me talk to him, I'm sure he would understand. You may have to give up two weeks pay, depending on company policy. But if you really want to go, I can persuade your boss," Scott said.
"Scott, you can't imagine how much I want to be there for my brother. I just don't want to make waves in my first month here, you know?" John said quietly.
"Then it's settled. I'll go talk to Roger Payne now. Be back shortly," Scott said as he got up and left the office before John could blink.
Wow. It will be really nice to go. I really would love to meet the men that served with Rob. God, watch me get fired. Would it be worth it? Maybe.
July 16, 1947
You wonít believe it. I'm going to be able to come for the dedication. The weirdest coincident occurred after you left. One of Rockwellís Vice-Presidents, Scott Foster, came into my office last week. He scared the crap out of me. I thought I had done something wrong and was being fired. Boy, was that not it.
His son is Major ĎSergeantí Paul Foster. Scott told me he served with you at Stalag 13. Scott never connected you to Papa Bear while you toured. It wasn't until after you left that he figured it out. Paul was disappointed that he didn't get to see you. Anyway Scott put two & two together and figured out that I was your brother.
We talked and he realized that I wasn't going to be traveling to Germany for the dedication. He thought that was a shame. He talked to my boss. Iíve got the time off. I'm so excited to be there for you. Scott and Paul and I will be traveling together. It seems that there are a number of fans of Papa Bear working for Rockwell. The President of Rockwell International is letting us take the corporate plane. Cool huh?
Thanks Big Brother. I know you still have a hard time dealing with all this acclaim, but I'll tell you, just meeting Paul Foster was an eye opener for me. He has since told me some stories... You deserve the acclaim youíre getting Rob. If you don't want to accept it for you, then accept it for me. Other than that I don't get to fly around the world in Rockwell International's corporate plane!
See ya soon
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Home of Michael and Mary Hogan,
Parents of Major General Robert Hogan, August 1, 1947, 1000 Hours
Mary Hogan just received final confirmation of the reservations that she and Michael made for the few days that they would be staying in Heidelberg, before heading to Hammelburg for the dedication to Papa Bear and his organization. They would finally be meeting with Wilhelm and Hans. Both men had been open to meeting them under any circumstances that they proposed. But both men had made sure that Mary and Michael understood that they would not be attending the dedication.
Wilhelm and Hans were very honest with us, knowing full well how we had originally felt about them. To them, the dedication would have that feeling multiplied beyond any possible resolution. In another aspect completely, they admitted to us that their former 'occupations' were not known to many outside of Papa Bear's organization. Since many dignitaries, both military and political, were expected for this dedication, their appearance there could be very very unhealthy for them. With the number of POWs from Stalag 13 present, their identities could never be kept a secret, even with the best intentions of those POWs.
Michael and I had to again think long and hard about their reasons before making the final decision to continue with our plans to meet both men. With all the correspondence in the past year, we had left those 'old' feelings behind, and had come to see both Wilhelm and Hans as 'friends'. It was strange to be hit with those 'old' feelings again. But, those feelings didn't seem to overwhelm us this time. So our decision was made. But now, the hard part. We have to come up with an excuse for our 'late' arrival at Rob's for the dedication. Rob is still unaware of our correspondence with both men. Our feeling has truly been that we want to make sure that the four of us can come to an understanding before Rob gets involved.
August 1, 1947
Your dad and I have had to make a change in our plans. Your dad can't get away from the clinic as soon as we thought. Doctor Peterson won't be able to cover for your dad for at least a week after first thought. So we won't be able to make it to Hammelburg before September 1st. We were hoping maybe to add a few days to the end of our stay. Hopefully that will be okay? But never fear we will not miss the dedication.
Sue and Ed will still be traveling on the old time schedule. I also know John still has his same schedule as well. Corporate plane. huh. I haven't heard from Joe recently, but he assured us he would be there as well. It will be nice to have the family together again.
So, we are sorry to put this small damper on the family reunion, but it is our hope to make it up to you after we arrive.
Oh no. This is so strange, that I hadn't realized it before. This letter represents the culmination of lying to Rob for almost a year now. And we were angry with him for the same thing. Don't think like that Mary, you truly want to make sure that the four of you can be friends before involving Rob.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, September 10, 1947, 1330 Hours
Rob just returned home from the train station seeing off the last of his men that left Germany this morning. Rob had been saying goodbye for a few days now. Newkirk, LeBeau, Carter and Kinch took a couple of days and went to Heidelberg to visit both Wilhelm and Hans before heading in their separate directions. Others had been leaving sporadically over the last three days, including both of his brothers and his sister's family. Rob's mom and dad were going to stay for a few more days.
God, I'm tired. But what a great tired it is, though! It has been such an incredible two weeks, with over 3000 extra people in and around Hammelburg for the dedication. Getting to meet the families and friends of all the guys. Sharing memories, some good, some bad. Regardless, the sharing seemed to be good for everyone.
Especially for me. I feel so much better than I have in a long time. Ken had wanted me to start the medication again before the men arrived for the dedication. He was worried that too many memories would trigger the nightmares again. But I told him I didn't want to take any medication. I haven't even experienced a bad dream. Thank God. I guess it could still happen, but I feel really good. I can't imagine one sneaking up on me now.
Rob wandered his house. Nobody was home. There was no note. Strange. Rob plunked himself down on the loveseat in the sunroom. I hope everything is okay? Damn. Just because Beth announced that she was pregnant yesterday. Don't start panicking just yet. They didn't know when to expect you home, they might just have gone out to eat. Yeah. Yeah.
The phone rang interrupting his thoughts. He entered the kitchen to pick up the extension. "Hello," Rob said. "Wilhelm. How's it going? -- Good. -- Yeah, the last of the crew is gone. -- Tomorrow great. -- Hans is coming with you. Wonderful. -- We'll see you around 6:00pm. -- Oh Wilhelm. Damn. I'm sorry. -- My parents are still in town. -- I still want to get together, I just wanted you both to know that my parents would be here. -- Okay, you're sure? -- All right, as long as your okay with it. -- See you both tomorrow. -- Oh God Wilhelm! -- Sorry. It's good news! -- Beth is pregnant. She just told everyone yesterday! -- Thanks, I'm already a wreck though. -- Don't tell Beth, Okay? -- Great. See you tomorrow." As Rob hung up the phone, his family entered the kitchen.
Whew." Where have you guys been? You didn't leave a note," Rob asked quickly.
"We took our daughter-in-law and grandson out to eat," Michael said matter-of-factly. "We would have waited if we knew you would be through early."
"No, that's okay. I'm just being a neurotic expectant father," Rob admitted sheepishly.
"Oh. So you start early," Michael teased.
"I should have known better Michael," Beth said. "During the first pregnancy I had to leave a note when I went to the bathroom." Beth came up from behind Rob and hugged him and then kissed him on the cheek.
"Come on. I wasn't that bad," Rob said indignantly. "Was I?"
"Yes you were. -- And I couldn't have loved you more for it," Beth said taking Rob in a full embrace, kissing him passionately.
Rob willingly returned the embrace and the kiss, until he remembered they had company. He gently broke the embrace. Looking up at his parents, he expected to see his parent's condescending stare. Instead they were both smiling. He quickly interjected a comment, "So where did you guys go to eat?"
"We went to the Haus-Brau," Beth said. "Poor Hermann. He was still reeling from the last two weeks. Rob, you never told me that the Haus-Brau was quite the happening place during the war," she teased. "I think everyone of your men had to hit the Haus-Brau at least once during the two weeks and I think some of them made it a regular stop." Beth smiled at her husband, but noticed his demeanor change. She was sure his parents saw it too.
"Yeah definitely a happening place," Rob answered quietly, looking at the floor. If you count getting shot by the Gestapo after being chased out of the building. Rob looked up quickly, the smile back on his face. "I hope Hermann made out like a bandit then. Except that I think he was offering free drinks to the POWs."
Beth was happy to see the smile return. I'm going to ask him what that was all about. But she decided to change the subject for now. "Hey Rob, who was that on the phone when we first came in?" Oops, I guess that wasn't the right thing to ask either. What's wrong?
"Rob is there something wrong?" Michael asked. "Ever since Beth mentioned the Haus-Brau, your whole demeanor has changed. Is everything okay?"
"I'm sorry. Everything is fine," Rob said quickly and realized for the first time that he was covering up his feelings. "Wow. You know what? Everything is not okay. Mom. Dad. Beth. As for the Haus Brau, I'll explain quickly. My last visit to the Haus-Brau during the war resulted in my getting shot by the Gestapo. It was all related to that interrogation that I've told you about. Guess I was just feeling bad for myself."
Rob paused and took a breath. "Actually, the Haus-Brau represents the beginning of the end of the war for my men. I took that bullet after the last meeting that put our final mission into play. I really should be proud and not be feeling bad for myself. Hermann told me that all my guys did while they were there was toast the ĎColonelí." Rob looked into the faces of his wife and parents, "Wow. Sorry, I guess that was a little too much honesty?"
Rob cleared his throat and said, "As for the phone call. Mom. Dad. This involves you and not Beth. Wilhelm and Hans are coming here for dinner tomorrow night. That was them on the phone. They know that you will be here and are still willing to come. I know that in your letter to them you told them you would welcome them. Both men have taken you at your word. I just want to make sure that you both understand my position here. These men are my friends and they are welcome in my home at any time. I expect that you both will treat them pleasantly, or I will ask you to find someplace else to be tomorrow night."
Michael glanced at Mary, looking for help as to what to do. They had yet to tell Rob about meeting both Wilhelm and Hans. Dinner tomorrow night was going to be the way for all four to be together to tell Rob about the situation. Things had gone very well in Heidelberg. The four of them got along quite well. So, they decided that they could continue with the original plan of meeting here tomorrow. If the meeting had not gone well Wilhelm and Hans would not have made the effort to call. And Rob would never have to be aware of their inability to find common ground. But neither Michael nor Mary had ever expected Rob to be adamant enough to actually tell his parents that they would be asked to leave his home. They didn't know what to say. They had wanted tomorrow night to be a pleasant surprise for him. But he was so on edge about their attitude. Michael glanced back at his son, having read his wife face.
"Rob. It seems that honesty will have to be the virtue of the hour," Michael stated, not looking directly at Rob. "First. You will need to hear me out. Okay? I guess I should start off by saying that you don't have to worry about us accepting Wilhelm and Hans. Wilhelm and I, as well as your mother and Hans have been corresponding regularly for the last year. Wilhelm, Hans, your mother and I just spent three days together in Heidelberg. That was the real reason for our being late coming here. We kept this from you because we wanted to make sure that we, the four of us, could find some common ground on which to build a relationship. We did not want you involved in that process. If it did not work, we did not want you to be disappointed." Michael took a deep breath. "The four of us planned on dinner tomorrow night as a way to let you know of our success. If it had been a complete disaster, Wilhelm and Hans would never have called here today. You should be happy to know, that the four of us got along wonderfully." Michael looked up into his son's face. He couldn't read the expression on his son's face.
Rob had the look of daggers. "So, you lied to me? For over a year?" He began pacing around the room, ranting. "I really don't appreciate being lied too. I never expected something like this from you both. And you forced Wilhelm and Hans into your deception. How dare you? How can I ever face them again? For years they were manipulated by me. Now they spent the last year being manipulated by my parents."
Rob quickly glanced at his parents, shock was plastered all of their faces. Rob stopped his pacing and ranting. He looked directly at his parents and he smirked, "Never lie to a liar. You will never succeed."
Rob burst out laughing. "Mom. Dad. I'm sorry, but I've known since last Thanksgiving that you've been corresponding with both men. You'll have to blame Wilhelm. But don't be too hard on him, I don't think he even remembers telling me. He had had way too much to drink by 4:30 in the morning. He even told me not to tell me, that it was a secret. So I kept his secret."
Rob sighed, "Admittedly, until your admission, I didn't really know if what you four were doing was working or not. I'm glad to hear that it has."
"So your speech about us being made to leave your home was just to get a rise out of us?" asked his mother incredulously.
Rob's demeanor turned serious. "No mom. That speech came from the heart and I meant every word. I would never have stood for either of you belittling my relationship to both men. And since I really wasn't aware of the solution you four came to. I wanted to make sure you understood my position."
"Oh," his mother said quietly.
"Sorry. I'm very glad that I don't have to 'ask you to leave.' I love you both for working hard to make peace with both Wilhelm and Hans. I know it means a lot to them. And it means a lot to me. I once told them that I had two families. One from Bridgeport CT that I was born into, and one here in Germany that I was born into by fire." Rob paused. "You both don't know how happy I am, that those two families are now one." Rob approached his mother, hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. He then reached out and took his dad into an embrace as well.
Rob broke the embrace. With a really huge smirk on his face he said. "So. Are you to going to let me give both Wilhelm and Hans grief about lying to me tomorrow night? Or would you prefer that I call them and tell them that I already know?"
Michael Hogan gave his son a look of long suffering. "Rob, if what you just made us go through, is what you have planned for Wilhelm and Hans. I would prefer you call them now. The last thing we would want is them to think we were part of your plan to give them grief."
"Okay. Okay," said Rob. "I'll call them." Rob went to the phone and called his two friends. The three of them talked for such a long time, that both Beth and his parents gave up waiting for the call to end.
Hammelburg, Germany, Governorís Mansion belonging to
Major General Robert Hogan, September 14, 1947, 1500 Hours
Rob entered the library. His parents had left earlier this morning for home. This was the first time today that he had time to relax. As he sat at his desk, he saw the note that he had left on his desk. It was from Kyle Birmingham. He had gotten word three weeks ago from Kyle that he was not going to make it to the dedication. His wife had given birth to their fourth child. The baby came two months early. They had some scary moments with the baby early on, but everything turned out okay. Rob decided to take some time now and write Kyle and tell him about the past two weeks and to see how the babyís parents were making out.
September 14, 1947
I hope all is well with you and your family. Iím sorry you couldnít make the dedication, but Iíll forgive you. Howís the new baby? Trevor, right? Wow four kids. Iím impressed. Actually Beth and I have some good news too! She just told me a few days ago that sheís pregnant! Wow Iím so excited, but boy was I such a basket case during the first pregnancy. Hey Kyle does it get any easier? Ugh. Anyway, Michael is doing great. I canít believe that he is almost 14 months. Time has gone by so fast. Oh yeah, tell Karen that Beth is thinking of her. We should really set aside some time to get together. Famous last words huh? Well we should at least continue to write.
Anyway, I wrote to give you the low-down on the Dedication Ceremony. We had almost 4000 people out at the site that day. There were 1500 of my men and their families as well as most of the population of Hammelburg. Not to mention some military dignitaries as well. It was a beautiful day. We couldnít have asked for a better day. There were the typical speeches. I even had to give one. Most of the men were snickering on their sleeves watching me. Itís not what I do best. Anyway, the plaque has been placed at the main entrance of the school.
I think everyone had a great time, I had been able to garner enough funds to put everyone up. They were scattered over the four closest towns. There were activities everyday. Anything from Octoberfests (a little early) to concerts. As much stuff Ďunbecoming an officerí that we could come up with. It was a wonderful time. I actually think that the civilians were glad when everyone left. Hammelburg just doesnít hold 3000 extra people.
On a sad note, we had a prayer service on the day of the dedication. I couldnít believe that we had 15 men die after leaving Stalag 13. Most to illness, but some to things as useless as car accidents. How ironic can that be? After surviving over three years under the guns of the German War Machine, yet you get home and get killed in a car accident. There were another 100, we had no response from. I can only hope that they are still well. The balance just couldnít make it, but many promised to come at sometime in the future. I hope they do.
I canít tell you how proud I am of all these men. They again surprised me. After my speech, they all broke out in a raucous cheer. It was embarrassing as all hell. But nice, really nice.
Okay, I guess Iíll cut this short. Keep in touch Kyle. Take care of the new baby.
Talk to you soon
PS. Oh, I never told you what the Dedication said. It was very nice.
On this site, from October 1942 thru May 1945,
Papa Bear and his operatives heroically fought against insurmountable odds,
while confined to a Prisoner of War Camp,
to defeat Adolph Hitlerís Third Reich.
It is, in part, to these men that we, all of us the world over,
owe our very existence.
For if not for their bravery and commitment,
the world we now know would not exist.
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